|March 1, 2016
Approximate time: 1600
Weather conditions: Clear turning to heavy rains throughout the recovery.
Called by the Chester County Police Radio on behalf of the Parkesburg Borough Police Department to respond to the
Culvert Street Amtrak Bridge from the Main Street side for a tractor trailer that was stuck under the bridge. They advised
that the roof was peeling and that it was loaded.
With the information we were given, we immediately dispatched a recovery supervisor and one of our heavy duty sliding
rotator recovery units to the scene. Additionally, we placed additional equipment on stand-by.
Upon arrival of the recovery supervisor, a Volvo tractor pulling a 53' van trailer was found to have been travelling south
on Culvert Street from Main Street when it struck the 11'6" Amtrak underpass. The unit continued to attempt to travel
under the bridge until the point that the trailer buckled. The tractor had major damage to the roof and the exhaust
system. The trailer's roof was torn off and embedded into the beams of the underpass. A majority of the roof trusses
were torn out of the trailer. The front wall of the trailer was buckled back. The landing gear was on the ground. The
tractor's drives were pinched by the trailer's weight.
There was major structural damage to the underpass.
Parkesburg Borough Police, Amtrak Police, and Amtrak Engineers were onscene.
The train traffic on the line had been order to crawl speed in the area.
The Amtrak Engineers advised that nothing could be touched until they cleared the scene.
Based on what our supervisor could see, a second heavy duty wrecker, rollback with forklift, rollback with skid steer
loader, replacement trailer, and Null's Recovery & Site Restoration were dispatched to the scene.
We were advised by Amtrak that they would need the unit moved as soon as we were given the go ahead so that the
necessary repairs could be made to the rail lines as quickly as possible to get the rail service back in full operation. At
this time, they were advising that their additional engineers were enroute from both Harrisburg and Philadelphia and that
they estimated them to be onscene within the hour.
As our additional equipment arrived onscene, they met with the recovery supervisor who advised them of the current
status and the recovery plan.
It was determined that the load would need to be removed from the trailer prior to it being recovered. At this point, the
doors were not able to be opened per Amtrak as they believed that was an integral component of the bridge at this point.
The replacement trailer was positioned on Main Street facing west. The rollback with the forklift on it was backed up to
the replacement trailer to serve as a loading dock.
Upon arrival of Null's Recovery & Site Restoration, they set up traffic control equipment around the scene to alert
passing motorist of the workzone.
The additional Amtrak engineers began arriving at this point.
The engineers found additional damages that had not originally been seen. They found that the one bridge beam was
bent and in danger of falling over. Additionally they determined that there was high voltage electric lines routed under
the bridge and connected to the beam. With the additional discoveries, it was determined that the bridge beam would
have to be lifted and supported by Amtrak prior to the recovery being performed. Additionally, the power would have to
PECO was notified to respond to the scene to secure the power.
At this point, it was starting to get dark. Two of our portable light towers were set up to provide a well lit and safe work
zone for our personnel along with the other crews working onscene.
The Amtrak crane would be responding from the Amtrak yard with an ETA of 1.5 hours which gave an estimated arrival
time of 2000.
Our personnel worked to pick up the truck and trailer parts while awaiting the arrival of the additional resources from the
Each time a train would near the scene, work was suspended and crews cleared from the bridge to allow the train to
PECO arrived and secured power to the block in which we were working.
Once the power was secured, Amtrak crews began work to secure the beam that was resting on top of the trailer so that
they could safely further evaluate the situation.
Upon further inspection, they gave us the go ahead to open the rear doors and begin the off load process. They
advised that they would have inspectors watching the bridge beams to ensure that they were not moving or being
effected by the off load process. If there was any movement detected, work would be suspended until the arrival of the
Once the doors were open, it was found that the load was severely compromised. The roof and walls had collapsed in
on the cargo. The cargo had also slid off of the skids as a result of the impact.
It was found that the load would have to be restacked by hand, wrapped, and then removed from the trailer.
Our crew began the process of restacking the load onto pallets.
As a pallet was restacked, it was shrink wrapped and moved to the rear of the trailer with the pallet jack. Once at the
rear of the trailer, the skid steer loader would carry the pallets from the damaged trailer to the loading dock. The pallets
were set onto the loading dock and then carried into the replacement trailer by the forklift.
This was a very time consuming process as the load contained several thousand bags of grass seed, pesticides, and
other lawn and garden supplies.
During the transload process, there was significant damage found to the load.
As the load transfer was wrapping up, the Amtrak crane arrived onscene. Our recovery supervisor met with the Amtrak
crane operator to find out what they would need from us and what space requirements were needed.
It was determined that Amtrak would be able to set-up on the sidewalk and allow room for the trailer and truck to be
recovered from under the underpass while the crane held the beam to ensure it did not fall during the recovery.
Once the load transfer was complete, the forklift was secured to the rollback. The forklift and replacement trailer then
cleared the scene. They both returned to Null's of Cochranville.
Our personnel then worked with Amtrak for the preparation of the recovery of the damaged truck and trailer.
The truck and trailer were separated. This would allow the trailer to be pulled off of the back of the tractor and drop
down to gain clearance at the underpass. The damaged trailer was winched out from under the underpass and up the
hill to the Main St/Culvert St intersection. Once at the intersection, the skid steer loader worked with the heavy duty
wrecker to move the trailer around the corner onto Main St. Once on Main St, the heavy duty wrecker began securing
the trailer together in preparation for it to be towed from the scene.
NR&SR along with the other heavy duty wrecker worked to lift the back of the tractor and remove the wheels and tires
from the drive axles. This would allow the truck to be lowered approximately 10" and obtain the clearance needed at the
underpass to allow the tractor to be recovered without causing further damage to the underpass or the truck.
The skid steer loader carried the wheels and tires from the underpass to Main St where they were loaded to be
transported from the scene.
Once the wheels and tires were removed, the tractor was slowly recovered from under the underpass.
Once clear of the underpass, the tractor was prepared to be towed from the scene.
The skid steer loader was loaded and secured for transport from the scene.
The damaged tractor and trailer were towed from the scene to Null's of Cochranville.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE PARKESBURG BOROUGH POLICE
DEPARTMENT ALONG WITH THE AMTRAK POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR ALL OF
THEIR HELP ONSCENE WITH THIS INCIDENT!