No Injuries Were Reported As Repairs Were Made Near U.S. 68.
This is power line accident number 23 reported to this site this year. All were avoidable. This is the 2nd power line accident in two weeks on this project. The crane belongs to Guy M. Turner Inc. of Greensboro, NC. Rush-hour traffic on Interstate 40 went from a crawl to a standstill friday afternoon when an extended crane arm pulled two power lines down onto the highway near U.S. 68.
Eastbound traffic was backed up to Kernersville, and westbound motorists were stopped as far away as Burlington while the power lines were repaired. Almost 400 Duke Power customers, mostly businesses south of the interstate, were without power for about two hours.
By 6 p.m., workers had replaced the lines and traffic was back to normal – as normal as Friday rush hour gets.
No injuries were reported, but a dead power line falling to the ground struck an eastbound van, causing minimal damage to the vehicle, said Sgt. Ronnie Slaughter of the Greensboro Police Department.
Eyewitnesses said they saw a large spark and heard a small bang when the crane’s arm met the power lines.
“It’s a miracle nothing else happened,” Slaughter said as he watched crews make repairs in front of the Airpark East business park on Albert Pick Road.
The crane belongs to Guy M. Turner Inc. of Greensboro. It had an arm extended straight up to move concrete barrier walls into place in a construction zone on I-40. The company has been working as a subcontractor on the 9-mile, $100-million road widening project through Guilford County.
The crane operator backed the equipment up without lowering the arm, slicing the two electrical lines that were at least two stories above the ground about 4:15 p.m., Slaughter said.
The operator’s name was not available Friday night, and no charges will be filed against him, police said.
Duke Power officials said 389 customers were without power until about 6 p.m. Traffic was stopped or rerouted for about an hour and 15 minutes while crews pulled the lines off the road and installed new ones.
Duke spokeswoman Guynn Savage said investigators would review the accident and may ask the Turner to reimburse the company for repairs.
Some of the businesses south of I-40 had backup generators to keep operations going. Others had to deal with the power outage. Guests checking into the Ramada Inn Airport at I-40 and U.S. 68 were greeted by candlelight and given flashlights to get to their rooms.
They told us it was a little late for Halloween, desk clerk Tabitha Freeman said of customers. But they were understanding.
Nearby at the Trubuy Exxon, manager Kelly Douglas said stranded motorists hiked a short distance from the interstate to buy snacks and make phone calls to friends and family. A generator kept cash registers running, but gas pumps and lights were down.
“We sold them goodies as they’d come down the hill,” Douglas said. “People would get chips and we’d hand them a flashlight so they could go to the bathroom. We’ve been open seven months, and this is our fourth time without power.”
This is the second time in two weeks that a crane’s arm struck a power line in the road widening project. Another operator was shocked on Oct. 30, but is expected to make a full recovery, said Bobby Norris, assistant project engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation. No power was lost during that incident.
Category: Accident Report