List of interstate accidents involving dropped steel loads
The sections of Interstate 20/59 and Interstate 65 which pass through downtown Birmingham have been punctured or otherwise damaged numerous times by steel loads being carried on 18-wheelers. The most damaging accidents have involved heavy coils of sheet steel. According to state transportation officials, steel coils have been dropped onto Birmingham area interstates around 30 times since 1987. No serious injuries have been reported. Highway repairs have averaged between $200,000 and $300,000 per incident, totaling around $7.5 million. The Alabama Department of Transportation files reimbursement claims against the trucking companies and their insurance carriers when traffic laws are broken.
- July 3: A patch to one of the holes created in the February 12, 2007 incident failed, opening a gaping hole in the middle lane of the elevated road deck, causing damage to several cars. It was covered with a steel plate and repaired shortly thereafter. (report)
- December 21: A truck carrying steel pipes overturned on the entrance ramp from 1st Avenue North to I-20 East. No damage to the roadway was reported. 
- July 24: A truck carrying a steel coil overturned on Elton B. Stephens Expressway at the U. S. Highway 280 exit. A guard rail was damaged, but the exit flyover was not. The driver was injured. 
- June 19: A 46,000-pound steel coil rolled off the collapsed bed of a BAC Transport truck on the southbound I-65 bridge over I-20/59 at Malfunction Junction. The coil damaged asphalt on the bridge deck where it struck and then rolled about 400 feet down the roadway. 
- June 6: 2 steel coils rolled off a truck and down an embankment on I-459 north near Grants Mill Road. The truck was carrying four coils and preliminary reports indicate they were held by nylon straps instead of steel chains. 
- April 16: An 18-wheeler dropped a steel beam on I-20/59 south near Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive. The beam contacted two other vehicles, but caused no injuries. 
- April 9: A truck dropped 100 steel plates on I-65 near the U.S. Highway 31 exit in Vestavia Hills. 
- February 19: A truck hauling a steel coil jackknifed on I-20 eastbound near I-459. All three lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours as crews removed the steel. The steel coils remained secured to the truck, but damaged the guard rail. No injuries were reported. 
- February 12: A Hardin Delivery 18 wheeler from Elizabethtown, Kentucky driven by James Combest wrecked, dropping a 43,000-pound steel coil in the northbound outside lanes of I-20/59 near Elton B. Stephens Expressway. (report)
- October 2: An 18 wheeler lost its coil on the ramp from I-20/59 North to I-20 East, damaging a section of the ramp's retaining wall. No injuries were reported.
- September 24: An 18 wheeler carrying steel pipes overturned on I-59 North near the BJCC. No injuries and no major damage to the roadway.
- June 26: An 18 wheeler overturned at ramp from I-20/59 North to I-20 East, spilling three rolls of galvanized steel. Minor damage to road and no injuries reported.
- June 8: A 40,000-pound coil was dropped on inside northbound lane of I-20/59 over 3rd Street from a truck driven by Lynn Nichols, the owner of Pinson-based BCD Enterprises, . The coil punched eight holes and damaged a car driven by Kimberly Jackson of Hueytown, who suffered minor injuries and has since filed suit.
- May 4: A 45,000-pound coil was dropped at Malfunction Junction, punching two holes in southbound I-20/59.
- January 4: A truck overturned on I-20/59 near the Civic Center without losing the steel coil. A hole was made in the shoulder and concrete barrier. The interstate was closed overnight while a crane was brought in to right the truck and move it away.
- March 18: A truck lost a 20-ton steel coil on I-20/59 near the Civic Center leaving five holes in the main roadbed, each about 3 feet wide and as much as 15 feet long. The holes were covered with steel plates for five days before Alabama Bridge Builders began repairs. The work took another week to complete.
- September 9: A 22 ton coil punched 17 holes along a section of I-65 South after falling off a truck.
- March 18: All four lanes of I-20/59 North were closed for five days after a 23-ton steel coil bounced down the interstate after falling off a truck.
- August 25: 11 holes were knocked in the pavement when a roll of coiled steel fell off a westbound truck on I-20/59 near 24th Street North.
- June 5: A 46,600 pound steel coil fell off a truck and partially unrolled on I-65 South near Greensprings Avenue. The driver swerved to avoid an air compressor that fell off another truck. Several hours were spent cutting up the steel and loading it on trucks to haul away. Five vehicles were damaged. One driver suffered a minor cut.
- February 22: Concrete damaged after a roll of steel fell off a truck resulting in the closure of two of the three lanes for northbound traffic on I-20/59 just south of Malfunction Junction from February 22-26.
In June 2006 the Alabama Department of Transportation pledged to send more truck inspectors to the Birmingham area to check 18-wheelers, "especially trucks hauling steel coils." The DOT also plans to advocate for legislation, common in other states, for steel coils to be shipped in cradles or containers rather than merely chocked and chained. State Senator Jabo Waggoner, a member of the Commerce and Transportation committee, was quoted in the Birmingham News saying "I think it's probably our responsibility now to ask them what is the problem."
During the week of June 12-16, Alabama State Troopers inspected 120 trucks hauling steel coils and issued 60 tickets for violations, including 50 trucks that were put immediately out of service until the problems were corrected.
In February 2007 District Court Judge Shelly Watkins said that he would impose the maximum existing penalites ($2000 fine and 30 days jail sentence) on those found guilty of transporting improperly secured loads.
During the Spring of 2007 DOT officials proposed an executive order lowering the speed limit from 60 mph to 50 mph for trucks hauling steel coils on I20/59 in the Birmingham area between Woodlawn and Arkadelphia Road. Also the Alabama Department of Public Safety added three inspectors to the area to watch for coil haulers.
State Representative Paul DeMarco and Senator Waggoner introduced legislation in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to strengthen state oversight of hauling practices. The first two bills never came up for votes in the Senate which spent both sessions mired in disputes over other issues. Waggoner's 2009 bill passed the Senate on February 17, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on March 10. It was signed by Governor Bob Riley on March 23. The law requires motor carriers hauling metal coils to train and certify their drivers in standards for securing loads. The law sets fines of $5,000 to $10,000 for utilizing an uncertified driver or for failing to secure a load to federal standards. Drivers can also be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to a year in prison for violations. Alabama Trucking Association officials have called the new law ""the toughest load securement legislation in the nation".1.
- MacDonald - March 24, 2009
- Birmingham News archives online search. Accessed March 16, 2006.
- MacDonald, Ginny (June 10, 2006) "Steel loads on trucks scrutinized". Birmingham News
- Doyle, Niki (June 17, 2006) "Steel coil truck inspectors write 60 tickets." Birmingham News
- Norris, Toraine (October 3, 2006) "Interstate ramp damaged, traffic diverted as 18-wheeler loses steel coil." Birmingham News
- MacDonald, Ginny (February 20, 2007) "Judge wants steel coil crackdown." Birmingham News
- MacDonald, Ginny (March 16, 2007) "50 mph sought for coil haulers." Birmingham News
- MacDonald, Ginny (March 24, 2009) "Alabama's new steel coil hauling law is toughest in nation, trucking association officials say." Birmingham News