Logging truck loses trailer, logs on Rumford bridge

Rumford police photo

Logs from a Vermont logging truck litter Canal Bridge on Route 108 (Bridge Street) in downtown Rumford early Wednesday morning after the trailer load detached from the tractor, rolled and slid along the bridge railing, police said. Traffic was rerouted by Mexico and Rumford firefighters for nearly six hours on Route 2.

RUMFORD — Route 108 in the downtown area was closed for about six hours Wednesday morning when a Vermont logging truck's trailer load of logs detached and rolled over on Canal Bridge, police said.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

A loaded log truck trailer detached from its tractor early Wednesday morning while headed east on Route 108 (Bridge Street) in downtown Rumford and rolled over, damaging the Canal Bridge railing and concrete pillars.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Canal Bridge rails and the tops of rebar-reinforced concrete pillars were destroyed early Wednesday morning in Rumford when a tractor-trailer logging truck's trailer detached and slid along the rails, spilling logs atop the bridge and into the canal, police said.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rebar-reinforced concrete bridge rail pillars and the rail itself were damaged along Canal Bridge in downtown Rumford early Wednesday morning when a tractor-trailer logging truck's trailer detached, rolled and slid along the railing, spilling its load of long logs atop the bridge and into the canal, police said.

There were no injuries.

Perras Bros. Trucking LLC of Morrisville, Vt., the company that owns the 1997 Freightliner 18-wheeler, was later cited for operating an overweight tractor-trailer and for several equipment violations, Trooper Jeff DeGroot of the Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division said.

The accident happened at 5:20 a.m., Rumford police administration officer Matthew Desroches said, reading from officer Daniel Carrier's report.

Christopher Kilburn, 30, of Eden, Vt., was driving east in the tractor-trailer truck headed for Verso Paper in Jay, Desroches and DeGroot said.

The coupling device, known as a fifth-wheel plate, failed, DeGroot said. The kingpin did not break and was still in place on the tractor.

DeGroot said the plate, which had been damaged in the past, was ripped off by the overloaded trailer. That caused the trailer load of 8-foot-long mixed softwood and hemlock logs to detach either on or just before the bridge.

The trailer rolled over and slid along the south edge of the bridge, breaking off the tops of rebar-reinforced, concrete banister rail pillars, Desroches said.

The load of logs spilled across the bridge and another 15 to 20 logs fell into the canal off the Androscoggin River.

At some point during the mess, a hydraulic line was severed, spilling approximately 25 gallons of hydraulic fluid on the bridge, Desroches said.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection was notified of the fluid spill, and the Maine Department of Transportation was notified of the bridge damage. Late Wednesday afternoon, an MDOT crew was still working on the bridge railing. The sidewalk on that side was closed.

The bridge, which has been deteriorating and recently patched, was inspected and deemed safe for traffic, Desroches said. In addition to regular traffic, it carries many tractor-trailer trucks a day headed for the NewPage and Jay paper mills.

Desroches said Rumford logger Kenrick Thibodeau retrieved the logs and M/T Pockets of Dixfield towed the log trailer.

There was no estimate of the damage because Rumford police no longer provide that.

Mexico firefighters shut own westbound traffic crossing Veterans Bridge over the Androscoggin River between Routes 2 and 108, detouring traffic through Mexico and Rumford on Route 2. Rumford firefighters shut down Route 108 at Route 2 and near the paper mill.

Desroches said he learned from the Dixfield big-rig tow truck driver that a lot of tractor-trailer truck drivers delivering wood chips from West Paris were upset that they had to drive through Rumford and Mexico on Route 2 rather than take the shortcut on Route 108 to the mill.

Signs on Route 2 direct heavy truck traffic to take the shortcut rather than drive through the towns to prevent traffic congestion and potential accidents.

A Rumford Public Works crew cleaned debris from the bridge.

Desroches said Rumford police are not pressing charges against the truck driver.

In Maine, the maximum allowed road weight for five-axle tractor-trailers is  88,000 pounds. The Perras Bros. truck weighed 108,500 pounds, DeGroot said.

Tractor-trailer logging trucks overloaded with wood "are not an uncommon occurrence" in Maine, he said.

Companies are trying to get "the biggest bang for the buck and are pushing harder than they should" and overloading trucks, creating unsafe and dangerous conditions. Hemlock is heavy wood, DeGroot said.

"We're very fortunate no one else was involved because it could have been much worse," he said.

DeGroot said it was very fortunate that another driver wasn't coming along in the opposite direction and that no one was walking on the bridge sidewalk. Additionally, it was fortunate that the fifth-wheel plate failed were it did and not in traffic, he said.

He said the Vermont company corrected the violations on the tractor and was allowed to drive it away.


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FRANK EARLEY's picture

My guess>>>>>>>>>>

In twenty seven years, I never had the "Pin and Plate' separate. Although I know what it would take to cause it to happen. I'm just glad no one was hurt, this very easily could have killed someone. My guess is rust, either that or poor welding. I'm leaning toward rust and rot in the nose of the trailer. Year after year of wet logs, and exposure to the weather will do that. Thats the problem with rust, it's like a sink hole in Florida. It's there, just no one knows about it until something breaks. It starts deep inside and works it's way out.


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