42-ton truck filled with beans collapses 100-year-old bridge in North Dakota

There were no injuries, but the bridge over the Goose River near Northwood, North Dakota, collapsed, the sheriff's office said.
Image: Big rig bridge collapse
The truck that collapsed a historic bridge in North Dakota on July 22, 2019.Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office

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By Phil Helsel

A historic bridge in North Dakota, built in 1906, collapsed Monday after a tractor-trailer hauling beans and exceeding the weight limit drove over it, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The bridge, which is on the National Registrar of Historic Places, spans the Goose River and is rated for 14 tons of gross weight, which is marked on the structure, according to the sherrif's office.

The weight of the big rig was 84,560 pounds, or just over 42 tons. It was loaded with 49,820 pounds of dry beans, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday. The weight was revised downward from initial reports Monday, when the sheriff's office said the truck was 43 tons, or 86,750 pounds.

Officials estimate it will cost between $800,000 and $1 million to replace the bridge.

The driver of the 2005 Peterbilt truck was identified as Michael Dodds, and he was not injured. An overload citation of $11,400 was issued, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

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The sheriff's office said the incident is under investigation. A phone number for Dodds could not immediately be found Monday night.

The collapse of the bridge southwest of the town of Northwood occurred around 1:15 p.m. local time, and when deputies arrived, the trailer of the truck was hung up on the west abutment, the sheriff's office said.

Photos released by the sheriff’s office showed the 56-foot-long bridge partially collapsed, with the trailer hanging along one section of the buckled span.

Northwood is a town of around 950 about 25 miles southwest of Grand Forks.

The sheriff's office did not name the bridge, but said it was one-and-a-half miles southwest of Northwood. Grand Forks County Engineer Nick West said in an email Tuesday that the span is the Northwood Bridge, and it is a total loss.

The Northwood Bridge, also known as the Goose River Bridge, was called historic in application documents to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 because it is the oldest documented bridge in Grand Forks County.

The Northwood Bridge is a pin-connected Pratt half-hip pony truss, and the Pratt design saw widespread use in North Dakota and across the nation in the early 20th century, according to the application documents.

Those documents from 1997 also say that bridge was owned and maintained by Grand Forks County. Emails to the county commissioners were not immediately returned late Monday.

West said that the bridge was on a minimum maintenance road with very low traffic volume, and a decision has not yet been made as to whether to replace it, and it’s possible the road could be closed indefinitely. The decision on whether to replace it would be up to the county commission.