SAN PABLO -- The trucking firm whose rig carried a crane that clipped a concrete overpass on Interstate 80, causing lane closures that lasted more than eight hours Wednesday, may not have had the proper permits and could face fines and be forced to pay restitution, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.
All westbound lanes of the highway were opened shortly before 5 p.m., hours after the crane smashed a traffic signal and light pole, then tore concrete from the bottom of the pedestrian overpass just south of San Pablo Dam Road about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"The driver did not have the correct permits to move that load on a public highway," said CHP spokesman Sam Morgan. Any trucking company transporting a load taller than 14 feet must get a special permit and travel along a preapproved route that will ensure the proper vertical clearance, Morgan said.
"That was not done in this case" by the responsible company, Pio's Trucking, based in El Sobrante, Morgan said. The crane's highest point was about 17 feet above the ground, he added.
The CHP will continue investigating the incident and turn over its findings to Caltrans, Morgan said. If the company is found to have failed to get the proper permits, it could be forced to pay the cost of repairs to the overpass or additional fines.
A person answering the phone at Pio's Trucking confirmed that the company was involved in the incident, but declined to comment further, saying only,
An hour after the crash, crews were still cleaning up chunks of concrete that were blocking the two right-hand lanes of westbound Interstate 80, a CHP dispatcher said. Motorists reported delayed traffic as far back as the Hilltop Drive exit in Richmond.
Structural engineers inspected the overpass and crews fastened plywood to the 4-foot-long damaged section to "button up" the hole and keep any more debris from falling onto the roadway, said Caltrans spokesman Allyn Amsk.
Crews also used cold mix to make minor repairs to the roadway where it was damaged by falling concrete.
Engineers will likely begin deciding Thursday morning how to proceed with longer-term repairs to the overpass, Amsk said. For the time being, the overpass will remain closed to pedestrians, he added.
No injuries were reported.