By Jacob Saulwick, November 14, 2013
The driver of a truck that brought Sydney traffic to a standstill after
it got stuck in the M5 East tunnel has told police the incident occurred
when he dropped his glasses.
In reaching for them, he said, he hit a button or lever that lifted the back of the truck into the tunnel ceiling.
The accident, which closed the tunnel, was one of two overheight truck incidents to disrupt traffic on Thursday morning.
before 10am, the Sydney Harbour Tunnel was closed southbound to allow a
truck that had approached the tunnel to reverse into a breakdown lane.
The tunnel was subsequently reopened with no damage to the tunnel.
the motorway approach to the city from the south-west - the M5 East
tunnel - remains closed after the damage done to the tunnel ceiling
shortly after 8am.
A spokeswoman for the Transport Management
Centre said the truck was not overheight when it entered the tunnel, but
its trailer had lifted up.
"Somehow the trailer has hydraulically
lifted up. Something has happened that has caused the trailer to rise
up," the spokeswoman said.
"Technically the truck itself wasn't actually overheight but when it raised up it became overheight."
NSW Police are investigating the incident.
is no forecast on when the M5 East tunnel would be repaired, according
to the Transport Management Centre, and buses through the area are also
delayed as traffic spills out onto alternative routes.
spokeswoman said there appeared to be a lot of glass on the ground in
the tunnel, with substantial damage to the ceiling infrastructure. The
truck remains in the tunnel.
All westbound lanes of the M5 tunnel were open but the citybound tunnel was closed.
Buses are delayed across Sydney.
on the M5 motorway is returning to normal. But on alternative routes
through the south-west of the city, there remains substantial
The Transport Management Centre says buses are delayed through Kingsgrove and nearby suburbs by up to 100 minutes.
buses that move through Kingsgrove then run on other routes, there are
knock-on delays for services as far as Drummoyne, Parramatta, Bondi
Junction, Blakehurst, East Hills and Liverpool.
incidents are just the latest in a steady string of overheight trucks
that have been stuck in tunnels, worsening Sydney's already crippling
peak hour traffic.
This is despite Roads Minister Duncan Gay introducing new fines and suspensions for trucks damaging tunnels.
of $2200 and the loss of six demerit points apply for driving
overheight trucks into tunnels. But from June it became easier for the
government to pursue the companies that own the trucks for the cost of
repairing the damage.
In addition, trucks that get stuck will have their registration suspended for three months.
Mr Gay will hold a press conference at 1pm to talk about the incident in the M5 East tunnel.