SARASOTA – A truck driver lost control of his tractor-trailer on Interstate 75 today sending heavy equipment off of the trailer, damaging the University Parkway overpass.
The accident, which sent concrete pieces onto the interstate, closed the southbound lanes for hours, but tonight one lane is open, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Repairs might take two days.
Jorge Luis Abelenda Fernandez, 21, of Tampa, was southbound in a 1994 Peterbilt tractor-trailer approaching University in the right lane when he tried to slow with other traffic for two vehicles on the right shoulder, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
He swerved toward the center lane to avoid a collision and that is when a strap holding heavy machinery on the trailer snapped, and the equipment fell and rolled from the center lane to the right lane hitting the base of the overpass, FHP said, damaging the structure. The truck continued toward the median and stopped facing southbound traffic.
Crews began cleaning up loose concrete at the overpass soon after the incident late this morning that damaged the bridge, DOT said.
The DOT plans to reopen one lane of University in each direction by rush hour Tuesday morning if repairs go as planned tonight.
Crews will complete a cleanup and place forms in areas that need new deck. Repair crews will pour a new deck in the damaged areas on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to DOT.
University Parkway lanes will reopen as work progresses, and additional lanes of southbound I-75 are scheduled to reopen Wednesday afternoon with the completion of the work.
Northbound lanes on I-75 remain open, according to FHP.
Traffic on southbound I-75 can exit at State Road 70 (mile marker 217). Motorists can take U.S. 41 to State Road 780 (Fruitville Road) for re-entry (at mile marker 210).
Anyone who might have seen the accident is asked to call FHP Trooper G. Monge at (941) 751-7647.