A truck driver whose rig was 6 inches too tall for the Lincoln Tunnel drove its entire 1.5-mile length, peeling the trailer's roof completely and ripping off decorative ceiling tiles.

Flashing signs and officers using a loudspeaker had warned the driver, and it was unclear why he didn't heed them, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the tunnel.

"He misjudged the height of the tunnel, and once he was inside it he didn't realize the damage he was doing," said Roy Guzman, the safety director of the trucker's employer, U.S.A. Logistics Carriers of McAllen, Texas.

The driver, from Texas, was charged with nine misdemeanor moving violations.

The central tube of three in the tunnel heading into Manhattan was closed for about 90 minutes after the accident early Thursday, but reopened just before the morning rush hour.

On the rare occasions when other trucks have scraped the tunnel's ceiling, the drivers have stopped, Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said. Police then let air out of the trucks' tires, so the rigs can be backed out.