Crane parts Morse Bridge beams

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RUMFORD – No charges were filed Friday afternoon against a tractor-trailer driver hauling a crane that severely damaged truss beams on Morse Bridge over the Androscoggin River on Bridge Street, police said.

The crane, owned by Bancroft Contracting Corp. of Paris, was minimally damaged, Rumford Patrolman Scott Mills said early Friday evening.

The bridge’s two portal beams, however, sustained an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 damage, Maine Department of Transportation engineer Herb Noyes said at the scene.

Bridge Street and Route 2 traffic across the bridge was rerouted by Rumford firefighters for two hours until MDOT workers could chain the parted Bridge Street portal to the truss to which it was once attached.

At one point, pedestrians were not allowed to cross the bridge, either.

Noyes said both large beams would have to be replaced.

“It wouldn’t fall right now unless something hit it,” Noyes said of the more severely damaged beam.

The two portal ends, which are about 14 feet above the road, keep the bridge trusses in alignment, he added.

Mills said the accident happened about 5:15 p.m. when truck driver Gilbert Armstrong, 46, of Canton was taking the crane back to Paris from a job site in Dixfield.

“The crane was properly secured, because if it wasn’t, it would have still been sitting on the bridge,” Mills said. The truck continued across the bridge and up Falls Hill before it was stopped.

Mills said they had the crane’s arm folded down, but they didn’t fold the lower end down.

That was sticking up about 3 to 4 feet. According to the truck’s permit, it had a clearance of 13 feet 6 inches, Mills said.

The truck, which is 75 feet long, weighed 140,000 pounds with the crane atop it.

“Chains holding the crane in place were bent, but the crane suffered minimal damage. They said they won’t know until they use it, if the crane was damaged more,” Mills said.

No one was injured.

Noyes did not know when the bridge would be repaired.

The bridge was built in 1935, and moved and damaged by the flood of 1936.

Firefighters on scene said it had been struck several times in the past.

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