January 21, 2018
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Hunt for driver who put a $3 million crack in Augusta overpass befuddles officials

By Callie Ferguson
Maine Department of Transportation | BDN
Maine Department of Transportation | BDN
Maine Department of Transportation is looking for the driver who caused $3 million in damages to a highway overpass in Augusta when it struck the bridge in October.

State officials have made no progress in identifying the hit-and-run driver who cracked a highway overpass in Augusta earlier this fall, costing the state $3 million in emergency repair work.

That’s because they have almost no clues, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot.

The crash, which officials believe took place in September, left no debris, no apparent witnesses and was not caught on camera, he said.

“It’s almost unheard of,” Talbot said of the lack of evidence.

Workers discovered the extensive damage on Oct. 3 — a massive dent and crack in a south-facing metal beam, as well as less visible fissures in the concrete superstructure of the bridge that crosses more than 14 feet over Interstate 95 near Exit 109A.

The DOT, which is investigating the crash, has little more than a working theory of what happened: A truck, presumably carrying a heavy piece of equipment, maybe with a boom arm, hit the bridge at night when no one was around to see, hear or feel it.

And no damage was reported to overpasses on either side of the Exit 109A bridge, which, in theory, the responsible truck also passed beneath, Talbot said.

No outside agencies are assisting in the case and won’t be called upon without any meaningful leads, Talbot said.

Law enforcement is typically involved when trucks strike bridges, but that’s because they’ve been called to the scene of an accident, Talbot said. In those cases — which happen several times a year — police notify the DOT, and file an insurance claim to pay for the damage, Talbot said.

Combing through the over 2,000 permits that trucks need to drive through Augusta with an overweight payload would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack, Officials said. The DOT has not contacted any contractors, according to Bill O’Connor, of the DOT claims division.

Puzzled and without leads, the DOT has reached out over social media and to news organizations for help with the investigation.

If they find the driver, officials want that person to pay the millions needed for the fast-tracked repairs. In the meantime, Talbot said, the state’s highway fund is footing the bill.

Anyone with information about the damage can reach DOT officials at 207-624-3020.

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