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Overturned backhoe snarls McLoughlin traffic for hours

by: ERIC NORBERG - ODOT crews - and company staff from the owner of the overturned truck and load, Stacy and Witbeck - look at the wreckage and begin to formulate a plan to remove the crashed truck. Before the news reached any media, the report of a backhoe on a tractor overturned on McLaughlin Boulevard under the Milwaukie Avenue overpass reached THE BEE from reader Henrik Bothe, just after it happened on Wednesday, November 6.

Although the excavator was securely strapped to its flatbed trailer, its boom arm was apparently raised slightly too high, and grazed the steel beam supporting the overpass that passes obliquely over the highway – which then gently scooped the entire rig over onto its side in the right-hand northbound lane.

“At first, we considered bringing in a crane to upright the truck,” said Kimberly Dinwiddie, Community Affairs for the Oregon Department of Transportation District 1. “Instead, two large tow trucks were brought in to move the truck and trailer.”

Throughout the day, northbound traffic on busy Highway 99-E backed up for miles, as vehicles funneled into one lane just north of 17th. For a while, traffic was even worse, as the road was completely shut down while crews removed removing the toppled truck and load.

It took all afternoon and into the evening to upright the rig; one of Portland’s most-used traffic arteries remained closed for most of the afternoon rush hour.

ODOT inspectors and engineers, Dinwiddie later reported, did find minor damage to the Milwaukie Avenue overpass, but reported it still to be structurally sound, notwithstanding dings and scrapes along the concrete abutment.

The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division also investigated the crash. “Investigators will not be issuing a citation in this incident,” said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “It was an accident.”