The morning commute on I-290 West on Thursday hit a real road block when 16 cars were damaged by a loose bridge joint.
A chunk of concrete came loose on the bridge joint in the far left lane near the Delaware Road overpass, and vehicles that were damaged either hit the joint or the concrete. Many of the drivers had their car tires flattened but some were completely crippled by the accident.
Susan Staufenberger’s 2009 Chevy Malibu was one of the vehicles damaged around 6:30 a.m.
“It felt like my car was lifted off the ground. It was that big. It felt like I hit a boulder,” she said. “The car in front of me hit something and it flew out the back of their car and then it was just so quick I ran over it. And it was a huge noise it was a very large piece of cement is what it looked like.”
State Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Susan Surdej says the loose joint was caused by the freeze/thaw cycle, the same process that causes potholes.
“It’s infuriating, really, that this isn’t taken care of better and cars and people trying to get to work and this happens,” Staufenberger said.
But Surdej says the bridges are monitored and repaired regularly.
“In this particular case it’s not something that was foreseeable. We’re expecting this was just caused by the weather,” she said.
The problem was fixed within a few hours. Surdej says the bridge is safe to drive in. But for those who were trying to get to work Thursday morning, that’s little solace.
Staufenberger said, “I had it towed to my mechanic and I am waiting for him to take a look at it to see exactly what happened with it and what kind of damage was done. Now I have to get rides to and from work everyday and pray someone can take me because I don’t have another vehicle.”
Anyone whose car was damaged should call the State Claims Office at 716-847-3173. Drivers could be reimbursed for damages because this happened on a state road, but it isn’t cut and dry.
Surdej said, “I honestly can’t say. There’s a process that needs to be gone through. There’ll be a review and then a determination will be made.”