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Mechanical glitch snarls NB traffic on Interstate Bridge
11th February, 2006

Two women were slightly injured when their car smashed into a malfunctioning part of the Interstate Bridge Friday morning, backing up traffic for several hours.

The driver, 50-year-old Mary E. Sparks, struck a midspan section of the bridge that was stuck in a raised position, said Portland Police Sgt. Brian Schmautz.

Sparks' passenger was Katherine Roane, 71. Both women were transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and one was believed to have suffered a broken leg.

Traffic slowly began to move again by noon.

The bridge had been raised for a maintenance lift and came almost fully down when the indicator showed it was safe for cars to drive on the bridge again and it opened to traffic, said Dave Thompson, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

"Barriers lifted for traffic to flow and a car hit the still-raised lift span... that apparently ripped the undercarriage out from the car," Thompson said.

Thompson wasn't sure what caused the bridge's mechanical failure.

"We know it didn't seat properly when we thought it did. There were strong winds, that may have blown it off kilter," he said.

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