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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-017
Synopsis: On October 22, 2009, about 10:38 a.m. eastern daylight time, a 2006 Navistar International truck-tractor in combination with a 1994 Mississippi Tank Company MC331 specification cargo tank semitrailer (the combination unit), operated by AmeriGas Propane, L.P., and laden with 9,001 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas, rolled over on a connection ramp after exiting Interstate 69 (I-69) southbound to proceed south on Interstate 465 (I-465), about 10 miles northeast of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The truck driver was negotiating a left curve in the right lane on the connection ramp, which consisted of two southbound lanes, when the combination unit began to encroach upon the left lane, occupied by a 2007 Volvo S40 passenger car. The truck driver responded to the Volvo’s presence in the left lane by oversteering clockwise, causing the combination unit to veer to the right and travel onto the paved right shoulder. Moments later, the truck driver steered counterclockwise to redirect and return the combination unit from the right shoulder to the right lane. The truck driver’s excessive, rapid, evasive steering maneuver triggered a sequence of events that caused the cargo tank semitrailer to roll over, decouple from the truck-tractor, penetrate a steel W-beam guardrail, and collide with a bridge footing and concrete pier column supporting the southbound I-465 overpass. The collision entirely displaced the outside bridge pier column from its footing and resulted in a breach at the front of the cargo tank that allowed the liquefied petroleum gas to escape, form a vapor cloud, and ignite. The truck-tractor came to rest on its right side south of the I-465 overpasses, and the decoupled cargo tank semitrailer came to rest on its left side, near the bridge footing supporting the southbound I-465 overpass. The truck driver and the Volvo driver sustained serious injuries in the accident and postaccident fire, and three occupants of passenger vehicles traveling on I-465 received minor injuries from the postaccident fire.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: Once the guidance for a bridge pier protection program as described in Safety Recommendation H-11-16 has been developed, require that it be applied to bridges that are vulnerable to collapse if struck by a heavy vehicle.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY10MH001
Accident Reports:
Rollover of a Truck-Tractor and Cargo Tank Semitrailer Carrying Liquified Petroleum Gas and Subsequent Fire
Report #: HAR-11-01
Accident Date: 10/22/2009
Issue Date: 9/2/2011
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 10/16/2012
Response: The NTSB notes that there are two ongoing studies that address bridge pier design factors—one that is nearly complete, led by the Texas Department of Transportation, and another that should be completed by September 2015, funded through NCHRP. When the findings are available, the FHWA will work with AASHTO to update the Load and Resistance Factor Design and Construction Specifications to provide guidance to the states for a bridge pier protection program for bridges that are vulnerable to collapse if struck by a heavy vehicle. Pending issuance and dissemination of the updated guidance, Safety Recommendations H-11-16 and -17 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
Date: 12/12/2011
Response: -From Victor M. Mendez, Administrator: The FHWA will work with AASHTO to institutionalize the specifications by updating the AASHTO Load and Resistance Design and Construction Specifications for adoption by the State DOTs in bridge design, construction and evaluation, ensuring that they are built in accordance with the guidance developed as part of the efforts associated with recommendation H-11-17.