Ashburton bridge over N3 safe

2014-10-25 00:00

A RAGING inferno engulfed a truck that collided into the wall of the bridge over the N3 at Ashburton on Thursday night.

Engineers were yesterday assessing the bridge after fears that the structure may be compromised by the damage caused in the crash.

It is alleged that the front right wheel of the truck burst as the driver was approaching the bridge on the highway from Durban. The driver lost control and veered off the road, smashing into the left-hand column of the bridge.

The truck, which was carrying large rolls of printing paper, was instantly swallowed up by searing flames that towered higher than 10 metres, leaving smoldering black stains as far up as the railings of the bridge.

An eyewitness, who was driving behind the truck at the time of the crash, said when he jumped out of his car to assist, he “could feel the heat from the flames from more than 30 metres away”.

“It exploded in a matter of seconds. The flames were so high they went over the bridge. I heard a lot of bangs like someone was shooting a gun,” the frenzied man said.

Yesterday, the aftermath of the incident was felt by motorists. The N3 was a slow hustle with bumper-bumper cars stretching back as far as the eye could see. As a precautionary measure, two cars were being let through at a time until surveyors could make sure the structure of the bridge was not compromised.

Kwanele Ncalane, spokesperson for the KZN Department of Transport, said they are aware that the incident caused “havoc on the roads”.

“A recovery took place [yesterday] and the roads are now opened again,” Ncalane said.

Bruno Cullen, project manager at Sanral, said there is some damage to the bridge.

“We have called in an expert to look at it and we are going to have to do some repairs to three columns. The bridge is not likely to collapse,” Cullen said.

At the time of going to press, the bridge was still being surveyed. Light motor vehicles were being allowed to pass over the bridge one at a time, but trucks and other heavier motor vehicles were being diverted.

According to Cullen, it is unclear how long it will take to finish the repairs.


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