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One Killed in Interstate Bridge Collapse

May 24, 2003

BIG SPRINGS, Neb. (AP) _ A bridge over Interstate 80 collapsed when a semi-trailer slammed into it, killing the driver. The accident shut down a 10-mile stretch of the interstate.

Pete Peterson, director of the Keith County 911 center, said three or four people were injured in the collapse Friday night. He said the injured were being taken to a hospital in nearby Julesburg, Colo.

Both eastbound and westbound traffic was being rerouted around the Big Springs interchange, the Nebraska State Patrol said.

``We’re completely packed right now,″ said Stanley Crandell, assistant manager at the Bosselman Travel Center in Big Springs. ``Just a lot of people wanting to know how to get around and keep going to Denver.″

Chris Peterson, an aide to Gov. Mike Johanns, confirmed the driver’s death. The driver’s name was not immediately known.

Peterson said he expected the interstate to be reopened by Saturday morning, unless there was damage to the roadway not seen until the rubble is cleared away.

``That is the wild card,″ he said.

A nearby portion of the interstate was closed during the busy July Fourth weekend last year when approaches to two interstate bridges in Ogallala washed out in flash flooding.

Interstate 80, the nation’s busiest highway, was closed for a week while repairs were made.

Just west of Big Springs is the Interstate 80-Interstate 76 interchange. Interstate 76 is the main route to Denver from Nebraska.

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