Big Dig’s First Big Accident Saw Banana Truck Slip Out of Control

March 23, 2006

The owner of a banana-carrying tractor truck involved in the first major accident in the Big Dig’s Interstate 93 tunnel has agreed to pay the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority $437,097 in a settlement announced Tuesday.

Turnpike officials called the May 14, 2003, crash the first real-life test of the Big Dig’s high-tech video surveillance system.

Workers stationed at a tunnel’s operations control center in South Boston — the “brains” of the sleek new $14.6 billion highway system — were first alerted to trouble when they spotted the truck speeding into the tunnel. They were on the phone with police while they watched live on monitors as the truck smashed into one wall, jackknifed and crash into the opposite wall.

The overloaded produce truck crashed in the deepest part of the northbound tunnel, about 120 feet below South Station, causing damage to 17 tile panels. The tunnel’s supports were not damaged. All but one lane of traffic reopened about 2 1/2 hours later.

The truck is owned by JDS Refrigeration Transport.

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