Stuck truck

The Md. 355 bridge over the Monocacy River could remain closed until February or early March while structural damage is repaired, according to the State Highway Administration.

The bridge that carries Md. 355 over the Monocacy River was closed Wednesday after a garbage truck being towed for repairs struck the superstructure, officials say.

A Frederick County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to the bridge Wednesday afternoon after a garbage truck struck the overhead support beams, according to the sheriff’s office and Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. The bridge was closed in both directions until engineers could further assess the damage, Gischlar said.

The bridge would remain closed for "up to 60 days," according to an estimate released via email from the State Highway Administration on Thursday morning.

"The damaged sections of the bridge will need to be removed and new steel beams fabricated, installed and inspected before the bridge can reopen,” said John Concannon, an engineer with the SHA. “As the holidays approach, traffic will increase near the malls, so MDOT SHA is expediting repairs to the bridge and will open it as soon as possible.”

The steel truss bridge, originally constructed in 1930 and upgraded in 1980, will be repaired after the engineers finish their assessments, Gischlar said.

“There is some damage to the beams,” Gischlar said.

The garbage truck became disabled sometime before the crash and was being towed back to a company facility for repairs when the crash occurred, said Lisa Kardell, the director of public affairs for Waste Management, Inc.

"Our truck was being towed by Morton's Towing [& Recovery] out of Clarksburg at the time, so it was a tow truck driver's accident,” Kardell said Thursday morning. “It wasn't our driver who caused the crash … Safety is a top priority for the company and our drivers do a great job out in the community every day.”

An employee answering calls at Morton's Towing & Recovery deferred comment to David Morton when contacted by a Frederick News-Post reporter earlier Thursday. An email to David Morton was not immediately returned as of just before 10 a.m. Thursday.

Maj. Tim Clarke, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, confirmed on Thursday that no one was injured and the crash involved property damage only.

Mark Franceschina said he was driving north on Md. 355 from Urbana into Frederick when he noticed traffic coming to a stop near the bridge around 11:55 a.m. Wednesday.

“I saw the aftermath. I was there maybe 10, 20 minutes later because a tow truck was already there, and, speaking as a former structural engineer, it looked pretty serious,” Franceschina said, explaining that at least one of the steel tresses over the bridge appeared to be completely severed.

Thankfully, rerouting traffic around the bridge onto Interstate 270 was an easy enough solution for the immediate future, Gischlar said. But commuters should still plan for a longer drive, given that the bridge would likely remain closed at least through Wednesday afternoon.

About 12,210 vehicles use the bridge every day in both directions, according to the State Highway Administration’s data. The bridge has a clearance of 14 feet, according to signs posted there.

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime.

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(51) comments

TonyCharlieFink

I know, I was there: 1 car before 1 car that was behind the truck, it was on a toad truck; I didn’t think at how it was angled that the truck couldn’t go across the bridge, but the person next to me I was talking to (I was the passenger) said the same thing afterward, she looked away at first, but I saw it at first: truck pieces flying everywhere, hit one of the top beams of the bridge structure. Those bridge dimensions are there for a reason, but a lot of (many) people don’t think about the law of cause and effect.

KellyAlzan

Ok queens - closed for approx 60 days. Seek an alternative route.

dremsberg

Sounds like maybe we should have some sort of vehicle height detection system installed at 13.5' above the roadway before bridges that have height restraints with an alerting system of flashing red lights on the bridge if trigggered. Think of the safety beam on your garage door only installed up high. Seems there has been another bridge in the county hit repeatedly in the past. Something to help prevent this sort of infrastructure damage especially on bridges that we rely on so much for commuting.

armillary

The only thing more depressing than the Monocacy bridge closure is the comics are missing from today's print edition.

Rocknut88

I work for these folks. I can tell you that truck was being towed to a different location when the bridge was struck. Not being there when it happened though it's hard to say what exactly went wrong.

Tpay78

Guess Morton’s tow rates will go up to help pay for the bridge and a new garbage truck

des21

oh good. That really stinks. Made WTOP traffic this morning. Huge inconvenience.

stefcfi

Glad no one was hurt, but: 1) Oh man, someone's in trouble. 2) What a mess

desii

It’s shame there isn’t a pic of the tow truck. It’s likely to presume ( assume ) it was the Waste Managements drivers fault. But since it was being towed, that company was fortunate not to have “made the front page”. And clearly if the tow truck was in front, it wasnt there to continue pulling the truck through the bridge, dong more damage. But, I guess it could have backed the truck out. However, I think that would be very unlikely.

sevenstones1000

Thank you for that explanation. I was wondering why all of a sudden a garbage truck would hit an overhead part of the bridge. They know how tall their trucks are.

KellyAlzan

The bridge is closed and that’s all we need to know. Makes zero difference to us who did the damage. People rely on crossing that bridge, the FNP did their job and reported the closure.

armillary

Speak for yourself KellyAlzan. It makes a difference to me. I'd like to know how it happened. Yesterday it seems you were interested too.

KellyAlzan

Correct. It’s the Ninny PTA Moms whining about the FNP’s reporting, that I’m referring to.

- Bridge is closed
- Truck damaged it.

Find another route.

Done.

armillary

Poor KellyAlzan. Loser Ninny PTA moms on the attack! It's all a ruse, and the single biggest witch hunt in FNP history!

KellyAlzan

Its like they don't ever get to have any of the "three letter" word!

recordhigh

What's your problem? You sound condescending and defensive?

gardenwhimsey

The article does not say the garbage truck was being towed when it hits the bridge. The only reference to a tow truck is the man who said the tow truck was already there. As I read it, the tow truck was called to the scene to take the garbage truck away.

KellyAlzan

Truck was in tow. I confirmed

Rocknut88

No driver of ours was in this truck. It was already on the hook being towed

Coolgal35

Uh, I think you got some errors in your story FNP. I drove past the scene and there was clearly a heavy duty tow truck IN FRONT of that trash truck. Do you really think it is standard practice to position a 60k lb vehicle in front of a 35k-40k lb vehicle for a recovery on at after the split on a compromised bridge? Hmmm.

KellyAlzan

Who cares. Bridge is closed and that’s all we need to know.

Fawned

Uhhhh that's a pretty important part of the story, how it happened. I had no idea from reading the article it was a tow truck, from the photo and the article it seems like it's the WM truck's fault.

shiftless88

Kelly doth protest too much; I wonder if her company or one of her friends' companies is involved. I think it is pretty important to note that the truck was apparently being towed.

rbtdt5

you normally complain that the fnp didn't mention the color of underwear being worn, now all of a sudden we know all we need to know.

CDReid

So, Kelly, you're saying that the paper should just have printed that the bridge was closed with no explanation as to why? Yeah, right, real responsible journalism that would be.

KellyAlzan

Drama Queens - it is what it is. Bridge closed. Damaged by Truck. Take another route. Merry Christmas.

CDReid

You seem to be at a loss for words Kelly, except for "Bridge closed, damaged by truck, take another route." Sticking to your guns, I see. Even if they are cap guns.

KellyAlzan

Sorry CD, story not about the great me. About a damaged bridge. With road closed.

CDReid

Don't forget "Find another route." [lol]

Tigerzord

Too many large trucks on these small roads and most of them going too fast!

KellyAlzan

Oh?

Tpay78

Morton’s can somehow be on the Frederick County police towing list and operate in Montgomery county. Tow company’s in Frederick County can’t be on the Montgomery co list. Just image the prices they can charge just to tow a wrecked vehicle all the way back to there yard.

KellyAlzan

A bunch of PTA moms chit chatting me here. Good lord.

Truck breaks down. Owner calls their tow company. Police tow just have not a thing to do with it.

gardenwhimsey

That bridge is not in Montgomery county. It is in the area of the Monocacy Battlefield, north of Ball Road.

Lad12der

Those decisions are made by Montgomery County Pd and Frederick County Sherrifs. Has nothing to do with the towing company. And rates are set by said counties not the tow companies.

kl21740

I know the tow rates really have nothing to do with this story, but since it was mentioned . . . tow rates set by the police and/or county government are only for tows requested by the police, like for a crash, disabled vehicle, or impound for a criminal matter. In most cases, the driver does not have personal knowledge to ask for a specific tow company that can respond promptly to the location where the vehicle is at the time. Therefore, the police call a tow from their approved list, and rates are capped to protect the vehicle owner from getting gouged, as they might be from a few bad apples in the business. A driver or vehicle owner almost always has the option of calling a specific tow company, if they so choose, as long as the tow company can respond in a reasonable time, depending on conditions (lanes blocked, etc). Waste Mgt. likely contracts with Morton's and called them directly when the truck broke down prior to the crash.

rbtdt5

270 should be a joy tomorrow. Enjoy the commute

sevenstones1000

How would this affect 270?

Tpay78

A lot of people use 355 to get to gaithersburg Rockville area

des21

It was a breeze until Germantown Rd. where i usually get off anyway. VERY light before that.

KellyAlzan

Not bad as long as there are FNP stories and comments to read / tend to while in 270 traffic

dremsberg

That's some serious damage to that beam. Imagine they'll need to fabricate a new one and that could take some time.

KellyAlzan

pretty sure they can JB Weld it

Tpay78

Morton’s towing was towing the truck. And had it lifted to high

KellyAlzan

oh now it makes sense

rnrbug

You know this for fact...?? or Just guessing

Coolgal35

Makes sense considering the tow truck was IN FRONT of the truck after the split of a compromised bridge.

shiftless88

Oh my, that is going to take a fair amount of work!

gardenwhimsey

How did he manager to hit the truss? Was there something lifted above the cab area that was supposed to have been lowered?

i heart frederick

Sure does look that way. Can you imagine hearing that?

KellyAlzan

Most likely the driver didn’t have the hydraulic lift lowered all the way

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