Failure of Overhead Electrical Conduit Support System in Lehigh Tunnel and Subsequent Truck-Tractor Crash, I-476

Investigation Details

What Happened

?On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, about 6:02 p.m., a 70-year-old male was driving a 2017 International truck-tractor in combination with a 2017 Strick semitrailer, operated by Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, Inc., south on Interstate 476 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) in the right lane inside tunnel no. 2 of the Lehigh Tunnel in East Penn Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania (figure 1). After traveling about 1,000 feet through the 4,379-foot-long tunnel, the truck-tractor struck a 10-foot-long section of electrical conduit whose support system had failed earlier and was hanging by electrical wires at a reduced height of about 8 feet 10 inches above the right lane.1 The conduit impacted the vehicle�s windshield and struck the truck driver. The combination vehicle continued through the tunnel and, after exiting, moved left and crossed onto the median, where it struck the median W-beam guardrail. The impact redirected the vehicle to the right, across the southbound lanes, and onto the right shoulder of the highway, where the truck-tractor collided with the shoulder W-beam guardrail. The combination vehicle came to rest along the right shoulder, about 5,240 feet after striking the electrical conduit. The truck driver died in the crash. No other injuries or damaged vehicles were reported.