MOUNT JULIET, TN (WSMV) - A man is dead after he lost control of his tractor trailer going westbound on Interstate 40 just after 5 a.m. Wednesday.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the driver of that tractor trailer as 80-year-old Luther Stinson, of Nashville. Troopers said Stinson crashed into a bridge column on the Mount Juliet Road overpass and then the tractor-trailer caught fire. Firefighters found Stinson dead inside the truck after they put out the fire.
“Once it exited the roadway, struck a guardrail, the tractor trailer traveled through the guardrail and struck a bridge support. This caused the vehicle to erupt in flames,” said THP Sgt. John Grinder.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation said the crash caused extensive damage to the bridge column and will impact drivers in that area for days.
As troopers work to figure out what caused the driver to go off the road, TDOT officials are working to repair the extensive damage to the column.
“We’re very fortunate though that there was not damage to the bent, that’s the section of the bridge that supports the beams on top, so we’re good there,” said TDOT spokesperson Heather Jensen.
Before crews begin fixing the damage, workers will have to put up support for the column and barrier rail to protect crews that will be performing the repairs on the damaged column. That could take about a week.
“The repairs themselves will take up to two weeks, potentially longer,” said Jensen. “It depends on what we find once we start the work. Fortunately, it should only take a couple of days, but the concrete they pour will take 10 days to cure.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has set a tentative timeline for the bridge repairs on I-40 at State Route 171 (Mount Juliet Road) after a crash damaged a bridge column.
As for Mount Juliet Road over Interstate 40, TDOT said it will keep the one lane closure that’s in place on the road from the ongoing widening project on the bridge.
“It is going to cause a bit of a headache here. We know this is a heavily traveled overpass,” said Jensen. “We do feel it is safe to travel on it, but we’d want to keep the weight limited in that particular lane directly over the column.”
“For the city, they are going to be involved with keeping traffic flowing on Mount Juliet Road,” said Andy Barlow, Mount Juliet’s Public Works Director. “In particular we have to make sure our traffic signals are working as optimally as they can in this situation. We ask for patients from city of Mount Juliet and those who travel through here as we go through the next few weeks.”
TDOT said it has awarded an emergency contract to the same contractor already working on the bridge widening project.
The total repair timeframe for the damaged bridge column will be roughly three weeks, according to TDOT. Officials said the timeline will depend on what damage is found once work begins.