Historic ND bridge collapses; bad GPS directions faulted

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Updated Jul 28, 2019
2005 Peterbilt on the historic rural bridge in North Dakota that collapsed Monday. (Grand Ford County Sheriff’s Department photo)2005 Peterbilt on the historic rural bridge in North Dakota that collapsed Monday. (Grand Ford County Sheriff’s Department photo)

A trucker has been fined more than $11,000 in conjunction with the collapse of a historic bridge in North Dakota. The real cost of the mishap, however, may be the expense to repair or replace it, estimated to be between $800,000 and $1 million.

But, the owner of the truck says his driver was simply following directions supplied by Google Maps, and has no intention of firing him.

The Grand Forks County (North Dakota) Sheriff’s Department reports that a 2005 Peterbilt loaded with dry navy beans caused the collapse of a 113-year-old bridge Monday afternoon, July 22. The bridge was posted for 14 tons gross weight, but the tractor-trailer driven by Michael Dodds weighed in at 84,560 pounds or more than 42 tons, about three times the weight limit of the bridge.

The 56-foot-long span over the Goose River near Northwood was built in 1906, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On the sheriff’s Facebook post about the incident, the owner of the truck and the driver’s employer responded:

Shane C Olson: As the owner of the truck I can tell you it was marked clearly. He was not 86,000 lbs. and this road is a minimum maintenance road that no truck has any business being on. Driver used very poor judgment and has admitted so and no one has been or could be any harder on him than he is on himself. Sadly for him, the community that loves the bridge and my insurance company, he was actually following Google Maps GPS for directions away from loading location and bridge is at end of a s curve on a 10 wide road. He chose to proceed instead of stop. But weight was not the factor as the sheriff’s post makes it sound. The trailer didn’t get straight getting onto (the) bridge and make contact with structure that pulled it off pedestal where it sat. Bridge did not break as you would be led to believe but in truth fell off its support.

Olson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune Dodds was unfamiliar with the area, and had never been on that road before. He said he forgives his driver and won’t fire him.

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Northwood is located about 40 miles southwest of Grand Forks.

Dodds was not injured in the incident, and the sheriff’s investigation continues.