Repairs to damaged bridge will take several months to fix, officials say

(Source: Jonesboro Police Department via Twitter)
(Source: Jonesboro Police Department via Twitter)
Detour around Harrisburg Road overpass (Source:
Detour around Harrisburg Road overpass (Source:
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The repair of an overpass damaged Tuesday morning in a crash will likely take several months as engineers spent Tuesday looking over the damages, Arkansas highway department spokesman Danny Straessle said.

A driver died following a crash and explosion at the Harrisburg Road overpass Tuesday, according to Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott.

The overpass on Interstate 555 was compromised following a semi-truck explosion.

Straessle said the damages were vast.

"All four columns supporting the bridge at this location were impacted. The first (easternmost) column is completely destroyed and about 25 feet of the cap (the horizontal part of the bent) has been pulled out from under three of the steel beams it supported," Straessle told Region 8 News. "The second and third columns also sustained heavy damage. The fourth column was the least impacted but showed signs of significant spall due to the intense fire. Three of the 10 beams supporting the bridge deck have no support underneath and have begun to sag under the weight of the bridge deck. This has caused the deck to crack in the immediate area. Regardless, AHTD structural engineers have determined the bridge is stable and not in danger of collapse."

Straessle also said crews cannot install temporary shoring until all of the truck debris has been removed from the scene.

Jackie Becker, 57, of Jonesboro died in the crash, according to a news release from Jonesboro police.

Police stated Becker was driving north on the interstate when the rig struck a bridge support for the overpass. JPD Public Information Specialist Paul Holmes tells Region 8 News the driver took a direct hit to the concrete bridge support.

Arkansas State Police is investigating the crash.

Due to the crash, the northbound lanes at the crash site are closed. However, a detour will be established to exit off I-555 just before the crash site then traffic will re-enter the interstate at the on-ramp.

Straessle also said engineers will work to determine the best approach for repairing the bridge.

"One of the first goals is to install shoring that will enable traffic to resume on northbound I-555. At this time, AHTD expects that to be by the end of the week," Staessle said.

Jonesboro police are not allowing anyone to travel over or under the northbound lane side of the overpass.

The southbound lane on I-555 is open.

Damage can be seen under the overpass.

Jonesboro police confirmed there were at least three explosions. A fire at the scene is under control.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from miles away.

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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