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Marquam Bridge lanes reopen after massive beam is chopped up

by: KOIN LOCAL 6 - This truck overturned on the Marquam Bridge, dumping a large girder and blocking traffic.The northbound lanes of the Marquam Bridge reopened early Wednesday morning, after state crews had to cut up a 170-foot concrete girder that had tumbled onto the bridge deck Tuesday afternoon.

The 75,000-pound girder, which was to be part of TriMet's new transit bridge project, caused some damage to the bridge deck and a joint, but state officials said it could be repaired later.

The accident injured a woman whose vehicle was crushed against the bridge barrier and closed Interstate 5's northbound lanes overnight.

The accident is being investigated by the Portland Police Bureau's Traffic Division. Late Wednesday morning, the bureau identified the drivers as James Pennington, 67, and Mark Cole, 28. They were working for V. Van Dyke Inc. of Seattle, which promotes itself as "specialists in oversize hauling."

The company has a "satisfactory" safety rating from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Last year, the company's 17 rigs traveled nearly 550,000 without a major accident, according to federal transportation records.

The bureau also identified the victim as Diana Kay Buice, 23. She was transported to Legacy Emanual Medical Center after Cole pulled her from her vehicle right before it caught fire.

Police say both drivers are cooperating with the investigation and alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

Traffic was rerouted onto Interstate 405 for hours as Oregon Department of Transportation crews worked to remove the beam and the overturned truck carrying it.

ODOT reported that at about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, the truck crash forced northbound traffic to be diverted to I-405 during the afternoon commute, which backed up traffic in both directions.

The truck was carrying carrying a specially designed girder for a contractor for the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project. It was made by the Knife River Corp. in Harrisburg, Ore. The contractor had already received and set four such girders on Tuesday. The truck reportedly involved in the incident was hauling the fifth girder.

TriMet said the truck route was approved by ODOT.

KOIN Local 6 and reporter Kevin Harden contributed to this story.