WEST GARDINER — A bridge that crosses Interstate 95 sustained heavy damage after it was hit Friday by a Maine National Guard truck, but state officials said the bridge is safe to use even as repairs continue.

Maine Turnpike Authority spokesman Dan Morin said Monday that the bridge has been cleared for use until it is repaired.

“We inspected the bridge for about five or six hours to make sure it was safe,” Morin said.

The bridge was closed for several hours after it was hit by a container being moved by the Guard. The crash occurred around 11:30 a.m. Friday as the truck was being driven south, said Sgt. Lucas Hare of the Maine State Police.

The Conex shipping container being carried on the flat-bed truck struck the overpass at mile marker 102, which is the bridge that carries drivers from the West Gardiner service plaza onto the southbound lanes.

The truck got on the interstate in Augusta, but Hare was unsure where it was headed.

Part of the investigation is determining why the container hit the West Gardiner overpass, he said. “It made it under other overpasses,” Hare said.

Hare said the accident caused heavy damage to the bridge, which was undergoing beam repair work at the time of Friday’s crash.

Hare did not have access to a report identifying the driver and the make and model of the truck. Maine National Guard spokesman Capt. Shanon Cotta was out of the office Monday and all questions were directed to Maine State Police.

Southbound traffic was stopped for about 30 minutes and reduced to one lane for a few hours as crews inspected the bridge, Hare said. Construction crews were making repairs to the bridge at the time of the crash.

This is the second time in as many years a truck has hit a bridge in the area of the interstate. In October of 2010 a truck carrying debris from a construction job at Sappi Fine Paper North America in Skowhegan hit the Route 126 on-ramp overpass. The impact ripped the back door off the dump trailer and sent hunks of metal scattering onto the road. The impact bent two support beams on the bridge.

Neither Hare nor Morin knew whether the bridge hit Friday is the same bridge hit in 2010.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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