PORTLAND, Ore. – The company hauling a massive girder that crushed a car and nearly killed a woman on the Marquam Bridge after one of its trucks tipped over may have a troubling inspection history.
Forty-two percent of the time in a two-year period, V. Van Dyke Inc. failed maintenance inspections and a rig had to be taken out of service, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The latest violation, three months ago, involved the same truck that toppled over on the top deck of the Marquam Tuesday afternoon, dumping the girder on the freeway and on a car driven by 23-year-old Dana Buice. She escaped with just an injury to her hand.
That violation had to do with a load that had either no securing or improper securement.
Messages left Wednesday with V. Van Dyke Trucking weren’t returned.
The Oregon Department of Transportation issued the permit for V. Van Dyke to haul the girder north and across the Marquam.
"We will be looking at all aspects of this permit," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton, who also said he was unaware of the history of inspection failures. "When we issued the permit (to V. Van Dyke) we were very aware of their history with ODOT and we had a good level of confidence that they could operate this load safely."
The permit issued to V. Van Dyke specified no trucks should be alongside it when it crosses a certain bridge. It also specified places where traffic needs to be stopped. Neither of those specs had to do with the Marquam Bridge.
"There are a lot of requirements that traffic be held up while they move through slowly – that's very much a part of what these permits will try to do," said Hamilton. "There was no requirement (in this case) that traffic be held up or delay the other cars through I-5."
The truck was supposed have two pilot cars – one in front and one in back. ODOT says it had those but since KATU hasn’t heard back from the trucking company, it hasn’t been able to confirm that.
ODOT says it issues some 300 special-use permits a day.
A KATU viewer tipped its news department off to three more trucks from a different company hauling similar 170,000 pound girders down Interstate 205 on Wednesday afternoon. According to TriMet, they were headed for the same project.
Portland police crash investigators are doing their own follow-up on the crash. So far they're looking at the truck's speed and the angle of the bridge as potential factors in the crash.
They're not saying the truck was going too fast but that it may have been going too slow. That slow speed, combined with the angle of the bridge, may have been what tipped the truck and created the mess.