"Bobsled-like turn" causing rollovers in Cincy's Lytle Tunnel

| 7/15/2002

Another tractor-trailer overturned on Cincinnati's Fort Washington Way July 10, spilling about 20 rolls of chain-link fencing. Authorities blame this latest truck accident and several similar incidents on traveling too fast along the stretch of roadway.

The truck reportedly was speeding as it entered the Lytle Tunnel on I-71 and flipped exiting the tunnel. The driver and a passenger suffered minor injuries.

It was the fourth truck to flip in or near the tunnel in the past two months, and the second in a week. On July 4, a semi, also carrying chain-link fence, overturned as it exited the tunnel.

On May 18, a truck flipped just south of the tunnel, spilling 25 tons of steel rods, and a beer truck overturned on May 29.

The Cincinnati Police Department issued an alert earlier this year to commercial vehicle drivers to drive below the posted 50-mph limit through the tunnel because of the possibility for tipping on the steep curve. Accidents along the reconstructed stretch of highway have been a continuing problem for truckers since it reopened last year.

"We have had trucks overturn in this area even though there are warning signs recommending a safe speed of 40 mph and containing the picture of a truck tipping," said Lt. Robert Hungler, commander of the Cincinnati Police Department's traffic division. "Although our major concern is with the southbound lanes, there is also a problem in the northbound lanes."

City transportation officials are working with state transportation officials to study whether the speed limit can be lowered along Fort Washington Way. Since January 2001, shortly after the highway opened for full use following a two-year major renovation, 17 trucks have wrecked before, inside or just after the tunnel, which has been likened to a bobsled-like turn.

The driver in the latest accident was charged with failure to maintain reasonable control.