Detours around bridge closure continue

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) – Alabama transportation officials said they hope to get the left lane of the northbound span of General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge open by 3 p.m. Sunday.

One person was killed Thursday after a tractor trailer hit another tractor trailer from the rear.

Friday, Alabama Department of Transportation officials held a news conference to give the latest details about the accident and how long the bridge would be closed.

The news conference was aired live, only on Fox Ten Tv and Fox10tv.com.

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE

Alabama transportation officials have said they are working quickly to try to get traffic flowing again northbound over the bridge.

State Transportation Director John Cooper said, “At this point in time, while we believe there is some structural damage to the bridge that ultimately will require a closure for repairs, we believe we will be able to re-open one northbound lane by 3 pm Sunday afternoon. If we can do that sooner, we will certainly make every effort to do so.”

That lane would be the left lane going north.

WHAT TRUCKS WERE CARRYING

State transportation officials also talked about the accident itself, saying that one truck struck the other one in the rear.

They said the first truck was hauling petroleum products and the second truck hauling plastic products.

Cooper said, “Clearly, one truck overtook the other one. Whether the front truck was stalled, or simply slow, I’m not sure at this point in time, but, clearly, one struck the other one from the rear.”

However, state troopers said the first truck stopped for an accident.

They said the driver of the second truck was killed, and the driver of the first truck was taken to North Baldwin Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Authorities have not released the names of either driver.

ANOTHER CLOSURE LATER

Despite the intense fire, state transportation officials want to assure drivers that, Cooper said, “The bridge will be safe when we re-open it. If it was not safe for any reason, we would not re-open it.”

While one lane is expected to open Sunday, state officials said the bridge will have to be closed again later.

Cooper said, “Sometime, probably in the next month, we will need to close the bridge, and we do expect to conduct at that time more extensive repairs. We will have a contractor on the scene, and, when we do that, the southbound lanes will be made two ways through that stretch of highway.”

He said these repairs will impact traffic for what he called an extensive time.

Cooper said, “I don’t know how to give you any precise estimate on the time today. I would say this: we’re not talking years.”

But, this advice holds for this weekend, and for when the next round of repairs takes place:

Transportation Engineer Vince Calametti said, “We will get through this, with the public’s patience.”

State officials said they hope to have plans drawn to take bids from repair companies in two to three weeks.

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