Can a Burning Truck Really Take Down an Interstate Overpass?

Can a Burning Truck Really Take Down an Interstate Overpass? Based on a recent incident we now know that, yes, it is possible for a burning truck to bring down a bridge. There are a few special circumstances that made this incident as catastrophic as it was.

CBS News reported, on June 11th 2023, that a section of Interstate 95 (I-95) in Philadelphia collapsed due to an oil tanker explosion. The oil tanker was carrying over 8,000 gallons of fuel and caught fire beneath an I-95 overpass. The intense heat caused a section of the highway to collapse, resulting in the death of the truck driver, Nathan Moody. The incident prompted the closure of the scorched stretch of highway in both directions, inconveniencing the estimated 160,000 daily commuters of this stretch of road.

This incident has raised concerns about the structural integrity of highway infrastructure. Is this sort of situation something we in Chicago should be concerned with? Events such as this illustrate how our nation’s roads need upgrading.

What are the problems plaguing Chicago and US roadways?

Once known as the United States second city, much of Chicago’s ever growing population is still reliant on half-century old roads and bridges. There are a number of reasons why this is a troubling fact. Let’s look at three:

  1. Aging infrastructure: Many of the nation’s bridges and overpasses were constructed several decades ago and are now showing signs of wear and tear. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the country’s infrastructure a grade of C- in its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, indicating a significant need for repairs and upgrades. Focusing on our local Chicago infrastructure, the more than a dozen historic bridges, some well over 50 years old, may be problematic moving forward.
  2. Insufficient maintenance: Due to budget constraints and competing priorities, maintenance efforts often fall short, and with such old infrastructure to maintain, this raises grave concerns for which the state should be responsible. Regular inspections, necessary repairs, and infrastructure updates are often delayed, increasing the likelihood of structural vulnerabilities.
  3. Increased traffic and weight loads: The volume of traffic on Chicago roadways has grown substantially over the years, resulting in increased stress on bridges and overpasses. One of our major interstate highways, I-94, was originally completed in the 1960s, when Chicago had a population under 3 million people. Today, while some of this original infrastructure still exists, Chicago’s population has tripled in size. Heavy trucks, supporting the sprawling Chicago population, and passenger vehicles supporting the nearly 9 million Chicagoans contribute to accelerated wear and tear, potentially compromising structural integrity.

With the growing necessity for repairs and upgrades to Chicago roads and bridges, the 2022 federal infrastructure bill will hopefully provide a solution. The insufficient maintenance that has plagued our city for decades may be nearing an end but until we see revitalized, renovated and new structures Chicagoans should be cautious of our aging and overstrained roadways.

What happens if I’m hurt in a Chicago bridge collapse?

If an individual sustains injuries in a bridge collapse in Chicago, several legal remedies may be available. The trusted Chicago attorneys at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers can be your resource as they examine the unique circumstances of your case. Liability can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the collapse.

  • Government liability: Government agencies responsible for oversight, maintenance and infrastructure management may be held liable if their negligence or inadequate actions contributed to the bridge collapse. This could include failures in conducting inspections, addressing maintenance issues, or implementing necessary repairs. With the windfall of funding from the 2022 federal infrastructure bill there are many roadwork projects that are set to be completed in Chicago. But whether due to worker strikes, supply chain shortages or any other issue that may slow progress, the promise of repaired roads and bridges does not shield government agencies from liability if infrastructure becomes compromised due to neglect. It is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer with a strong track record of suing government agencies.
  • Contractor liability: This applies more to newer structures rather than the historic bridges mentioned above. Private contractors involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of the road or bridge may also bear responsibility. If negligence, faulty design, or construction defects are established, victims may have grounds for legal action against these entities.
  • Trucking company liability: Much like the case regarding the I-95 overpass, where a fuel truck, parked under a bridge burst into flames with 8,000 gallons of fuel burning the bridge, truckers or trucking companies can be held liable as well. In cases where a trucking company or driver’s negligence caused the collapse or significantly contributed to it, victims may pursue legal action against these parties for compensation.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of bridge or road collapse in Chicago, choose the trusted and experienced attorneys at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers to handle your case. When suing the government, however, it is critical that you act quickly to preserve your right to seek compensation. The statute of limitations for filing a claim against a government agency is typically just one year. No matter the liable party, whether state, contractor or trucking company, Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers can help you just as we have with many of your Chicago neighbors. Read our testimonials to see our track record of success when holding the state accountable for negligence.

Seek the assistance of experienced Chicagoland attorneys at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers to navigate the complex legal process and protect your rights. Contact us today for your free consultation.