UPDATE: Charges pending against truck driver after bridge collap - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Charges pending against truck driver after bridge collapses

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UPDATE: The Iowa State Patrol's District 10 office in Oelwein says charges are pending against the driver of a grain truck who drove over a Winneshiek County bridge which collapsed under the truck's weight.

The collapse happened last Friday. The Iowa State Patrol says the driver was Justin Hippen, who is 29 years old from Parkersburg. He drives for Sinclair Milling. Officers in Winneshiek County say the grain truck weighed about 30 tons while crossing the bridge, which was only able to handle about three tons of weight. They also say signs were posed before the crossing indicating the weight limit.

More information will be released regarding the pending charges by the Iowa State Patrol at a later time.


UPDATE (5/8):  Crews are set to begin cleaning up the damage after the collapse of the historic Daley's bridge over the Upper Iowa River. The clean-up is slated to begin Tuesday. 

Winneshiek county supervisors made a visit to the site today, inspecting the damage and constructing a plan for repairs.

County Engineer Lee Bjerke says they've hired a contractor that is set to start the clean-up process Tuesday. 

"We just want to get the structure out of the water and get the river open and safe again," said Bjerke. "A lot of fishing goes on it, a lot of canoeing, tubers, it has a big recreational draw. And we just don't want anyone coming down floating into the bridge and impaling themselves, getting cut on it, or worse you know getting pulled under it or anything like that."

Crews estimate it will take a total four days to clean-up. Bjerke expects the destruction in the river to be entirely cleared up by the end of this week. The cost for the clean-up is at $4,000 a day.

The 2013 traffic count for the bridge is around 30 cars, which pass through the bridge daily. Bjerke says although it is not a significant amount, it still poses as an obstacle for tourism and area businesses who are faced with a challenge-both on land to find a different a route and in water.

Hruska's Bluffton Campground in Cresco says their major attraction is the Upper Iowa River. Owner Duane Hruska says the bridge collapse will undoubtedly impact their business, a significant part which includes canoe, and kayak rentals. 

"Extra gas to run these trips, while we're trying to maintain our prices at the same and running that much more gravel we're going to burn up more tires because it's going to be harder on our vehicles," said Hruska. 

The Daley's bridge is no stranger to wear and tear. Bjerke says the bridge has been closed for repairs before, but always re-opened. Winneshiek County inspects this bridge, among other, ever year. 

"You know we've found problems with it, fixed it, got it back open, fixed it," said Bjerke. "If we had any idea this bridge was going to come down, we would've closed it. Now the load that went across it was way heavier than it was designed for and we can't anticipate that someone's going to do that."

The Daley's bridge is now at the forefront of the county's radar.

"We do want to salvage as much of it as we can, but that salvage is definitely secondary to just getting it out," said Bjerke.

The county's priority is removing the bridge. Once the bridge is removed, they will take steps to determine how to rebuild the bridge, factoring in environmental issues, nearby landowners and cost. 

"Our estimates are a little old, are $780,000 to put this new structure in," said Bjerke. "We're going to have to go back into that now, and this could really eat up our entire $900,000 depending on how we try to get this new bridge in."

Winneshiek County Attorney Andrew Van Der Maaten says his office will determine whether or not they will file charges against the driver of the truck, once the investigation is complete. 


UPDATE: A bridge collapses after a loaded grain truck weighing more than ten times the bridge's weight limit, tries to cross it.

The historic bridge over the Upper Iowa River on Cattle Creek Road, East of Cresco in North Winneshiek County was built more than a 100 years ago.

The once beautiful iconic Daleys Bridge is now a pile of twisted and mangled metal and wood laying half underwater.

"I was shocked. Hard to believe that it could just fall apart like that," said long-time area resident Mindy Hovie.

 A semi hauling a load of grain tried to use the bridge, but crushed the more than 100-year-old structure with 30 tons of weight; 10 times the maximum load the bridge was meant for.

According to a county worker who was at the scene, the out-of-town semi driver was following his GPS and got stuck in a situation that forced him to try his luck with the bridge.

Many from the area stopped to see what remains of the bridge.

"It has made it through a lot of floods with trees hitting it and everything else and they fix it up to make it still work; hard to believe that it is actually gone after a semi just drives over it," said Amanda Thomas, who lives just down the road and uses the bridge often.

The county worker telling KWWL that there has been some work done to the cement support system, but for the most part, this bridge was original.

"It is just too bad. Everybody makes mistakes, but now one of our landmarks is gone that you can't get back," said Hovie.

Residents say that section of the river is a very popular spot for canoeing. The section currently closed to canoes until the bridge can be cleaned up.


The Upper Iowa River is blocked in one part of Winneshiek County after a bridge collapsed over it today.  

According to the Winneshiek County Sheriff's Office, the collapse is along Cattle Creek Road after the driver of a large truck tried to cross the river. The bridge is located between Chimney Rock and Coldwater Creek. Until the engineer's office is able to clear the bridge from the water, canoes will not be able to cross the river at this spot.

Engineers say the loaded grain truck weighed more than 30 tons, about ten times the 3-ton weight limit of the bridge.  A warning sign is also clearly posted.  Nobody was injured.

The Winneshiek County Sheriff's Office posted to Facebook a picture of the truck resting on the piling at one end of the bridge. saying simply: "This is why the bridge collapsed." In the image you can see the posted wright limit for vehicles is 3 tons. 

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