'The truck was clearly too tall': Long Grove bridge closed as damage examined

Experts are surveying damage done to Long Grove's iconic covered bridge after police say a "clearly too tall" and overweight box truck bashed through the structure Wednesday, nearly two weeks after it was designated a national landmark.

Long Grove Village Manager David Lothspeich said the structural integrity of the cover and the bridge's foundation will be studied before temporary repairs are made to prevent any potential collapse. The bridge is closed to traffic indefinitely.

"All parts of it are being evaluated in kind of a triage format," he said.

Among those evaluating the span are Long Grove's engineer and a structural engineer who specializes in bridges.

Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli said Deputy Greg Abshire was doing paperwork while parked near the bridge when he heard a loud crash that turned out to be the truck striking the top of the structure at 3:54 p.m. Wednesday. Abshire responded within seconds, Covelli said Thursday.

The truck's driver, Eriberto Orozco, 30, of the 3500 block of North Lowell Avenue in Chicago, was cited for disobeying a stop sign, disobeying a traffic control device, driving an overweight vehicle on the bridge and failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, police said. Orozco, who police said was uninjured, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 1.

Covelli said Orozco violated a sign stating "no truck or buses" and warning of a $500 fine, posted on either side of the bridge spanning Buffalo Creek. Besides not fitting under the 10-foot, 6-inch-tall bridge, police said the 15,000-pound empty rental truck exceeded a 6,000-pound limit.

"The truck was clearly too tall to enter the bridge," Covelli said.

Dating to the early 1900s, the one-lane bridge landed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15. The official word from the National Park Service came to members of the Long Grove Historical Society about a year after the structure was recommended by the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council.

Historical society member Aaron Underwood was among the residents viewing the damage Thursday. He and Ryan Messner, vice president of the Downtown Long Grove Business Association's executive committee, pushed to get the covered bridge listed as a federal landmark.

"You have a hard time understanding what you're seeing because it's so unbelievable," Underwood said of the bridge damage.

Constructed in 1906 by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Co., the span is a rare surviving example of a pin-connected pony truss bridge built for an urban setting, according to documents submitted to the state for the national landmark process. The "nostalgic covering" was added in 1972 to help preserve the bridge and limit traffic from trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Long Grove this year paid about $95,000 for bridge repairs, including a new roof and abutment and drainage work, with the expectation it would be good for seven to 10 years. Cost estimates for a long-term fix have varied, with the most recent being about $850,000.

Citing the covered bridge's poor condition, Long Grove officials in 2014 began exploring options to renovate or replace it with a one- or two-lane span at the western entry to downtown.

In late 2016, the bridge needed several weeks of repair after a Kildeer woman's SUV rolled over inside the structure.

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  Long Grove's iconic covered bridge on Robert Parker Coffin Road remained closed Thursday, a day after police said a truck that was overweight and exceeded a height limit damaged it. Daniel White/
  Just two weeks after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, Long Grove's historic covered bridge was closed Thursday as engineers evaluated heavy damage caused when a truck crashed into it Wednesday. Daniel White/
  Engineers spent Thursday surveying damage to Long Grove's iconic covered bridge, which police say occurred when a "clearly too tall" and overweight box truck bashed through it Wednesday. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places earlier this month. Daniel White/
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