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Concerns over bridge strikes in the Midland-Odessa area

NewsWest 9 spoke with Gene Powell, Public Information Officer for the TxDOT Odessa District. He said these strikes are happening more often than they should.

ODESSA, Texas — It sounds like a broken record-another bridge strike to report. This time the FM 307 and I-20 overpass was hit by an oversized load on Monday morning.

TxDOT reports an excavator came off the trailer and caused some damage to the pavement as well.

NewsWest 9 spoke with Gene Powell, Public Information Officer for the TxDOT Odessa District. He said these strikes are happening more often than they should, and believes its all comes down to drivers being in a rush.

"They are completely preventable," said Powell. "If you have a load over 14 feet, you're suppose to get a permit and they will give you a map that tells you where you don't fit. If you follow the map, then there is not a problem."

Seems easy enough, so why does it continue to happen? Powell said it's a number of things that contribute to these incidents.

"Everything from not following the permitted route, loading equipment incorrectly to people just not caring and not getting a permit or a route," said Powell. "Don't be in such a hurry that you don't pay attention to detail."

According to Powell, not paying attention on top of inexperience have wreaked havoc on bridges.

"If you don't need a permit but you are causing a distraction on the roads, it's because you are posed wrong or you don't know your load," Powell said.

Powell told NewsWest 9 that when situations like these happen it is hard for the person responsible to pay up. Therefore the cost goes to you, the tax payer.

"The insurance companies always fight for it and they say we estimate the repairs as too much," said Powell. "What happens is that we have to pay the repairs with tax payer dollars and if somebody leaves and we don't know who it is then tax payers are absolutely paying for it."

A law about this types of situations has been enacted. Drivers or their employers are liable for any damage caused when an overpass is struck by an over-height semi-truck. Additionally, the driver of the vehicle could be charged with a misdemeanor crime.

Powell believes insurance claims like these are hard to prove especially if the bridge has multiple damages.

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