NTSB: Corrosion Led to Deadly Crash in Lehigh Tunnel
LEHIGH TUNNEL, CARBON COUNTY — Corrosion on steel support straps that hold up electrical conduit to the ceiling of the Lehigh Tunnel resulted in that conduit crashing into the windshield of a truck, according to a preliminary report by the NTSB.
Truck driver Howard Sexton, 70, from New Jersey, was killed when the conduit crashed into the cab of his rig in February.
The turnpike was in the process of bidding out a contract to replace the electrical system in that tunnel.
The tunnel, including the fans and electrical conduit, had last been inspected in 2016.
The inspection found evidence of corrosion on multiple steel support straps used to affix the electrical conduit to the tunnel ceiling.
On the day of the crash, a failure occurred in the support system, causing a section of electrical conduit to fall into the path of the southbound combination vehicle.
Before the crash, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was in the process of awarding a contract to replace the lighting and electrical system in Tunnel #2. In part, the contract specifies relocating the electrical system from directly above the two travel lanes of the roadway to the outside edges of the tunnel walls
The estimated completion date for the new electrical system in Tunnel #2 is October of 2018.