- Associated Press - Friday, March 27, 2015

SALADO, Texas (AP) - A tractor-trailer slammed into construction beams along a major interstate in Central Texas on Thursday, killing one person and halting traffic in both directions for several hours, authorities said.

The truck hit a beam being used to build a bridge across Interstate 35 in Salado, about 40 miles north of Austin. Debris then toppled onto the interstate and was struck by other vehicles, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Becky Ozuna said.

The beam fell onto a pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction, killing the driver, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The driver was a 32-year-old man from Arlington, but other information wasn’t immediately available, Trooper D.L. Wilson said.

Wilson said three other people were taken to hospitals.

The oversized 18-wheeler came to a stop under the overpass with its cab heavily damaged. Two other rigs and two pickup trucks also were involved in the wreck, said Lt. Donnie Adams with the Bell County sheriff’s office.

Traffic was backed up for miles along the interstate, which is a primary north-south artery through Texas, he said. The interstate was closed for hours. The Department of Transportation said shortly after midnight that it was “barely” open, with the road open before and after the incident site but the main lanes not yet available.

“We’ve got more vehicles than we’ve got space for,” said Adams, noting that the area is undergoing heavy construction. He said the stretch of roadway is being expanded to three lanes in both directions and includes new overpasses, exits and other work.

Corbin Casteel said he was traveling from Austin to Dallas for business when he came upon the accident. He said the truck appeared to have struck an overhead beam.

“It looked wedged underneath the bridge,” he said.

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