Highway work to resume after deadly Ohio overpass accident

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cincinnati construction collapse kills one person.

Work continues in the aftermath of the bridge collapse on Interstate 75, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. CINCINNATI (AP) — Highway construction work was resuming in Cincinnati even as investigations continue into the deadly collapse of an overpass exit ramp that was being demolished, Ohio transportation officials said Wednesday.CINCINNATI (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say a truck driver from Howell, Mich. is recovering after being involved in an overpass accident along I-75 in Ohio that killed a construction worker.CINCINNATI — Tons of concrete and steel covered the southbound lanes of a major Cincinnati artery Tuesday after an overpass collapse during demolition work left one worker dead, a tractor-trailer driver injured and police considering what the potential toll might have been had the accident occurred amid heavy traffic.

The removal of tons of debris from Interstate 75 began on Tuesday afternoon and was completed by night-time, allowing the closed southbound lanes to reopen to traffic. The Ohio Department of Transportation had postponed other bridge work Tuesday night, but it scheduled all northbound lanes for overnight closure from 11 p.m. Police said casualties could have been much higher had the late-night collapse happened at a busy time on the interstate, which carries more than 178,000 vehicles a day through the area five miles north of the Ohio river. An Ohio Dept. of Transportation spokesperson told CBS Cincinnati affiliate WKRC-TV Tuesday night that I-75 South reopened more quickly than anticipated. Fire officials said his body was recovered from rubble with the help of air bags and special equipment early Tuesday morning, about four hours after the accident.

Kokosing official John Householder said in a statement Wednesday the construction company remains focused on working with the appropriate authorities to investigate and determine the cause of the collapse. Gary Middleton, an acting deputy director of the transportation department, said it was a “routine operation” being carried out by a major contractor. Westerville-based Kokosing Construction was doing the demolition under a nearly $91m contract for a three-year project meant to improve traffic capacity and safety in a busy stretch of I-75. Documents obtained by The Enquirer on Tuesday indicate that the company faces penalties of $3,000 for every 15 minutes a lane of I-75 was closed during the project. “I can see the contractor’s point of view in trying to be efficient and saving time and money, thinking, ‘I’ve got to close traffic down in order to work on the middle so let me just go ahead and take the sides out first,'” Howell said.

Kokosing also could face fines and other disciplinary action by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which was investigating the work-related death. Kokosing is well-known throughout Ohio and according to its website, the company is the Ohio DOT’s largest highway contractor (it does similar work in West Virginia). In 1992, it purchased the assets of McGraw Construction in Middletown to form a member company called McGraw/Kokosing Inc. to provide heavy industrial maintenance.

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