A 58-year-old truck driver from Alabama has been ticketed after his cargo struck the 100th Street bridge deck over US-131 in southern Kent County. The Michigan Department of Transportation says the crash Monday morning marks the fourth time the overpass has been hit this year. The crash happened shortly after 8 a.m. on northbound US-131 in Byron Township. The right lane of US-131 was blocked while crews worked to clear the scene. It has since reopened. MDOT said an inspection crew has been called to check out the overpass. The 100th Street overpass will be closed temporarily. Drivers are advised to avoid the area and seek an alternative route.
There were multiple crashes linked to debris sprayed across the road from the initial crash involving a semi-truck hauling a piece of equipment with a crane. The crane broke off when the semi-truck hit under the overpass. Michigan State Police say it was fortunate no one was hurt. The overpass was previously damaged on Jan. 12 by two semi-trucks carrying oversized shipping containers.
Then the overpass was struck again by a semi-truck hauling a mobile home on Jan. 23. Trucker Terry Foxworth drives the section of US-131 just north of the Allegan County line on a regular basis. He knows the overpass well. “It’s a lot lower that than some,” Foxworth said. But he says that’s not a problem if you know what’s coming. “I always know the height of my trailer and know the height of the bridge before you get to it,” Foxworth said. “There’s always signs there that tell you how high it is, so you should know if you will fit under it or not.”
MDOT spokesman John Richard say the bridge, which was built in 1952, is among the lower spans in Michigan. But Richard says truckers should know that. “Low point is 14-foot, 1 inch. It’s listed at 13’11”. It’s all over truckers manuals. It’s online. So I don’t know what these high loads are doing,” Richard said. “It goes years and years without getting hit and then boom it gets hit, what, four times in the last couple of months?” The mishaps caused MDOT to move the bridge up on the agency’s replacement wish list.But there’s no guarantee as to how soon a new, higher bridge might be built. “To replace this bridge, it will be a minimum seven, eight months before we can get those new beams in,” Richard said. “So we’re still in the design phase. We still don’t have funding secured for a possible permanent fix-slash-replacement of this bridge.”