Trucking company responsible for Aiea overpass repair bill

Trucking company responsible for Aiea overpass repair bill

As dozens of students at Aiea Elementary find new ways to get to school, state authorities are investigating the trucking company that caused a nearby pedestrian overpass to collapse.

The Department of Transportation notified Tibbitts Trucking on Wednesday that the company is responsible for paying the cost of repairs.

On Wednesday morning, school bus driver Kat Ahuna picked up children who usually walk across the bridge to reach their campus.

"For safety reasons, because crossing that street to come there, so dangerous," said Ahuna, an employee of Gomes School Bus Service.

A truck towing a trailer with a forklift on top struck the bridge on Tuesday afternoon, causing a five-ton chunk to come crashing down. The initial repair estimate is $200,000 to $300,000. A DOT spokeswoman said the company has to pay for the bill since it didn't obtain a permit for the oversized load.

"The company does have a pretty good record. They don't have any out of service violations. They just had some minor infractions in 2010 which were taken care of, and also currently, they had a few minor infractions that we're following up with them," said DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.

Sluyter said those violation could be for problems like a broken mirror or a light that is out for a license plate.

Hawaii News Now contacted company owner Don Tibbitts. He told us he couldn't comment since it was an insurance matter.

"You gotta watch your height. We go through classes for that to get our license CDL. You gotta watch everywhere we go. The low lines, and everything we have to watch, branches," said Ahuna.

There is no timeline for a fix yet. The state is considering whether to rehabilitate the piece that fell or simply replace it. The process could be sped up if it's done as an emergency repair, but it will still take several months.

"We know this is a really important pedestrian overpass for the children, for the people going to the stadium, and it's something that we want to get done as quickly as we can," said Sluyter.

Sluyter said the DOT could not find any record of Tibbitt's Trucking ever filing for a permit for an oversized load. The department processes 3,500 to 4,500 permits on Oahu each year.

The Honolulu Police Department is handling the investigation, which will eventually be turned over to the DOT. Any potential fines will be part of the investigation.

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