Rollovers continue to mount on Cincy's I-71

| 8/20/2002

Two trucks overturned in separate accidents Aug. 15 on Cincinnati's Fort Washington Way near the Lytle Tunnel. Rumble strips, video cameras and more warning signs have not slowed the incidence of overturned trucks near the I-71 tunnel.

At about 1 p.m. Thursday, a tractor-trailer hauling beer tipped onto its left side on southbound Fort Washington Way, just south of the tunnel. The truck was driven by Robert Wheeler of Metropolis, IL. Reportedly, it flipped and slid 100 feet before coming to rest against the highway's left barrier.

Wheeler reportedly was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. He was cited for failure to control his vehicle.

About eight hours later, at roughly the same location, trucker Joseph White of Clinton, TN, also flipped his rig onto its left side. In the crash, a 40,000-pound roll of steel spilled into southbound lanes, punching a hole in the I-71 overpass.

White reportedly was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital. He also was cited for failure to control his vehicle in the crash.

Overturned trucks have been a constant problem at or near the tunnel since the highway opened for full use in January 2001 following a two-year major renovation. The two accidents last Thursday make a dozen this year and 22 since the highway opened.

The Cincinnati Police Department issued an alert earlier this year to commercial vehicle drivers to drive below the posted 55-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."