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Lawmaker wants solution to keep large trucks from hitting overpass

HONOLULU (KHON2) - We've seen it happen way too many times, the Gulick Avenue Overpass getting hit by a truck passing under it. In fact, this is the second time in as many weeks that this has happened.

No one was hurt in this incident that happened just after 12:30 Thursday afternoon. The Gulick Ave. Overpass is one of the oldest and lowest overpasses. It's 14-feet 3-inches high. 

A flatbed truck heading westbound was transporting another truck when it hit the Gulick Ave. Overpass, tearing off the roof of that truck Metal debris was pushed to the side and the right lane was closed for a short while, backing up traffic. Transportation officials have looked at the overpass and found no structural damage. 

"I just heard one big crash from my apartment. Came out of and see all the cars stopping," said Tony Pa who lives nearby. 

Representative John Mizuno, whose district is next to the overpass, says he's very concerned that this keeps happening and wants the Transportation Department to survey the overpass for any improvements. He's even written a letter to the department as soon as he found out about the latest incident.

"We are looking to see if DOT can perhaps retrofit it, break down, and make it a lot higher so we have fewer occurrences of all these damaged trucks and vehicles. This is beginning to be a monthly occurrence," said Rep. Mizuno. "It's outdated. This is probably for like 1950s traffic. They didn't envision the vehicles we have now."

DOT tells us vehicles need a permit from the state if the vehicle and its load exceed the measurements of 9-feet wide, 14-feet high, and 45-feet long.

Vehicles exceeding the provisions of Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 291, Sections 34 & 35 are required to seek a permit through HDOT to operate on State Highways by HRS Chapter 291, Section 36. Permits can be obtained through HDOT Highways District Offices. Permitting authority for county roads and streets is the county engineer.

Oversized vehicles are those where:
•    Vehicle width is greater than nine feet, including load.

•    Vehicle height is greater than 14 feet, including load. (Note: at no time shall a vehicle be operated under or through any bridge or other highway structure if the height of the vehicle exceeds the posted height for said structure.)

•    Vehicle length is greater than 45 feet, including load.

•    Truck-tractor and semitrailer length is greater than 65 feet.

If a driver is found in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 291, Section 34 or Section 35, he or she may be cited by a peace officer, traffic officer, or employee charged with the care or protection of the highways. The fine associated with a citation for overweight or oversized vehicle violations depends on the degree of the violation and ranges between $50-$1160.

When an overpass is struck, officials tend to see cases where drivers either violated the permit or didn't bother to get one in the first place. It's unclear if the driver in Thursday's crash had a permit or not. 

After about 40 minutes, the scene was cleared. We learned the driver was given at least one citation for exceeding the height limit. 


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