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Trucker's firm will pay to fix bridge hit by dump truck

Dump truck driver William J. Lindsay, right, surveys damage Tuesday at the I-75 overpass at State Road 50. He told FHP the trailer inexplicably began to rise as he passed under the span.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Dump truck driver William J. Lindsay, right, surveys damage Tuesday at the I-75 overpass at State Road 50. He told FHP the trailer inexplicably began to rise as he passed under the span.

BROOKSVILLE —The owners of a Brooksville road construction company will likely pay a half-million dollars to repair the damage one of their drivers inflicted this week on an overpass above State Road 50.

The driver of the truck, William J. Lindsay of Brooksville, will not be charged in the Tuesday afternoon accident, said the Florida Highway Patrol. But the private contractor hired by the state to repair the damage will seek reimbursement of roughly $500,000 from Lindsay's bosses at W. Clyde Daniel Construction, said Kristen Carson of the Florida Department of Transportation.

"The taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for this," she said.

Lindsay, 56, was heading east on SR 50 on Tuesday when the raised trailer bed of the 1991 Mack dump truck he was driving plowed into two 55-foot concrete beams that hold up a section of the highway's two southbound lanes.

No one was injured in the accident, which tied up traffic at the busy intersection for hours. Southbound traffic was flowing along a single lane of the interstate on Thursday.

According to Carson, repair crews will be replacing the concrete reinforced beams as well as the concrete road deck above them. The replacement beams are expected to be delivered in the next few days and repairs should be completed within two weeks.

Lindsay told FHP investigators that the empty trailer bed inexplicably began to rise as he approached the bridge. FHP investigators have not been able to answer the question of what would cause this to happen.

That has raised concerns among local motorists who are used to seeing the enormous trucks, often hauling tons of rock from local mines, traveling along area roads. If this truck bed could rise by itself, could it happen again? Could the truck in front of them suddenly rear up and dump its load onto their vehicle?

Those familiar with the operation of such trucks say that this is a rare event, but they note that as with any equipment, strange things can happen.

One expert in commercial truck systems said that because of its mechanical setup, it would be nearly impossible for the dump bed to have risen on its own.

John Powers, director of Florida Powertrain & Hydraulics, a Jacksonville company that sells and distributes truck hydraulic systems, explained that activating the dump bed requires two separate actions from the operator.

Once a powertrain overdrive system is activated, an air-activated shifter must be engaged by the operator before the dump body can go up and down.

"It would be pretty darn remote for it to happen all by itself," Powers said.

Trucks made within the last 15 years have lights on the dashboards to indicate that the dump bed has been activated, Powers said. It was unclear on Thursday whether the truck Lindsay was driving had such a light.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 848-1435.

Trucker's firm will pay to fix bridge hit by dump truck 12/11/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:08pm]
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