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CINCINNATI – Highway construction work was resuming in Cincinnati even as investigations continue into the deadly collapse of an overpass exit ramp that was being demolished, Ohio transportation officials said Wednesday.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 75 re-opened Tuesday night, nearly 24 hours after a worker was killed in the overpass collapse, which covered the lanes with tons of concrete and steel.
The Ohio Department of Transportation had postponed other bridge work Tuesday night, but it scheduled all northbound lanes for overnight closure from 11 p.m. Wednesday until 5 a.m. Thursday in a section north of downtown. Other lane closures on the interstate this week will be made as needed for continued work that's part of a three-year project scheduled to end in June 2016.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators have been at the site and other authorities are also probing the accident.
Transportation Department spokesman Brian Cunningham said the contractor, Kokosing Construction of Westerville, Ohio, cleared the debris more quickly than expected, allowing inspections Tuesday evening that found only a small pothole that needed repair.
"There was very little damage to the roadway," he said.
Kokosing's $91 million contract for the project makes it liable for possible damages over the forced traffic shutdown. Cunningham said assessing damages against the contractor will be "part of the ongoing activity" that's ahead.
Kokosing official John Householder said in a statement Wednesday the construction company remains focused on working with the appropriate authorities to investigate and determine the cause of the collapse.
Police say casualties could have been much higher had the late-night collapse happened at a busy time on the interstate, which carries more than 178,000 vehicles a day through the area about five miles north of the Ohio River.
Authorities identified the worker killed as Brandon William Carl, 35, of Augusta, Kentucky. Fire officials said his body was recovered from rubble with the help of air bags and special equipment early Tuesday morning, about four hours after the accident.
"We are deeply saddened at the loss of our friend and co-worker Brandon Carl," Householder said in the statement. "There are no words to express the loss we feel and sympathy we extend to Brandon's family."
The tractor-trailer driver, Eric J. Meyers, of Howell, Michigan, slammed into the overpass debris immediately after the collapse. He was taken to a hospital with what were described as minor injuries.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed in Columbus.
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