Sarasota, Florida -- The Florida Highway Patrol says one lane on southbound Interstate 75 at University Parkway in Sarasota has been reopened after twoholes in the overpass caused a closure of those lanes for most of the day.
The area is located at the Sarasota Manatee County linesright outside of the Lakewood Ranch community.
University Parkway is still closed in both directions under the overpass.
Ken Watson with the Florida Highway Patrol says the damage was caused by a truck driver. Trooper Watson says, "He made some evasive maneuvers to avoid striking the vehicle in front of him. When he did so he lost his load. It was a 6,000 pound piece of drilling equipment. When it fell into the roadway it caused two very large holes that went completely through the overpass. We were able to open one lane, one of the three southbound lanes."
We spoke with the driver oftheSoroa FreightIncorporated truck. Jorgewouldn't give us his last nameand speaks little English. He saysthat traffic came to a sudden stop because of a stopped car.
A driver stopped to help that driver and that somehow caused a domino affect leading to other drivers slamming on their brakes. He says when he hithis brakessuddenly it caused thestraps tying down his equipment to flyoff leading to the damage.
Sabrina Rocco was driving underneath the overpass when it happened. She was on her beat searching for astory when one literally fell in her lap. She works for the Bradenton Herald and whenpieces ofthe I-75 overpassstarted to crumble the debrisstarted raining down on her car as she drove east on University Parkway.
Rocco says, "The debris all of a sudden just fell onto my car and onto my windshield.It was a little scary because I initially thought it was going to collapse. That was my first thought."
10 News surveyed the damage and found several gashes and partial holes in theasphalt besides the two holesWatson spoke of.
Watson saysJorge has been charged with careless driving and he says the repairs could take some time. Watson says, "We're looking at the most two days to have those repairs made."
Meanwhilebusinesses around the area like AnotherBroken Egg Cafe areforced to scramble. They're closed forrenovations and looking to hire 35 people or so but Eric Romeo, the Kitchen Manager, says the accident is impacting the process. During the day they'd seen about 60 former customers and job seekers but that changed right after the accident. He says, "University is the main road. We haven't seen anybody."
Bridge inspectors from the Florida Department of Transportation were at the scene Monday afternoon assessing the damage and repairs are currently underway to repair it.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is urgingdrivers to avoid the area until all lanes have been reopened. On Monday evening, just a few miles north of the incident, two vehicles in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 flipped, causing even more back up. There's no word on any injuries or what caused the crash there.
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