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Concrete chunks rain down on OMSI lot from Marquam Bridge

by: David F. Ashton, Concrete chunks and steel reinforcement bars falling from the damaged freeway bridge above smashed into a truck parked below the Marquam Bridge near OMSI. “Al”, the truck’s owner, inspects it for possible further damage.

A huge concrete pipe section that rolled off a truck on the Marquam Bridge didn't damage any vehicles on I-5, though the accident closed the southbound lanes of the bridge for over five hours and snarled traffic all over the region, but the but ten cars parked below the bridge took a beating.

Typically-slow Friday freeway traffic came to a standstill on September 15th, at 9:15 am, when a 39,000-pound concrete pipe section slid off a flatbed truck traveling south on Interstate Five, entering the Marquam Bridge.

The massive concrete tube careened across the roadway into the concrete railing along the freeway's edge, narrowly missing other vehicles on the bridge.

However, vehicles parked below the bridge, in the parking lot of OMSI--the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry--didn't fare as well. They were showered with chunks of concrete, steel enforcement bars, and parts of the cyclone fencing from above.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident.

'A co-worker was walking out and said he saw something hit the side of the freeway,' said a man who identified himself to us only a 'Al', whose truck was damaged from falling debris. 'When I came out, I saw my truck covered with rocks and dust, and my truck's tailgate was beat up by a metal bar that came down.'

The freeway was closed for hours as ODOT inspectors checked the structural integrity of the bridge, and a Hazmat response vehicle mopped up 45 gallons of diesel fuel that had leaked from the tank of the flatbed truck.

Portland Police Bureau Lt. Mark Kruger, Traffic Division, said the driver of the truck was cited for two violations: Not having the load sufficiently tied down, and not having the cradles for the pipe secured to the bed of the truck.

And staff and early visitors to OMSI could only count their blessings that none of them had been standing near their vehicles at the moment when the heavy debris came raining down on the parking lot. One museum employee mused that had it happened an hour or two later, as the lot was filling up, somebody almost certainly would have been hurt.