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Prefab home addition wrecked in too-low bridge mishap to be quickly replaced

When local builder Robert Storms arrived at his Reef Road job site Thursday morning, the modular addition that was supposed to be delivered in the wee hours to complete the house under renovation on the property wasn't there.

When Storms started making phones calls trying to track down the prefabricated second-story addition, he learned it was lying in pieces across North Benson Road. The unit, being hauled to Fairfield by truck from Maine, met its fate after smashing against the North Benson railroad overpass because it was too tall to fit beneath.

"It was extremely fortunate that no one was injured," Storms said Friday, adding that the turnaround on replacing the modular unit is expected to be quick. "The new back half of the house will be here on Jan. 8," he said.

Storms said he ordered the modular addition through Excel Homes based in Pennsylvania, but was not familiar with details of the delivery. According to the police report, the unit home was being transported by RJF-Keiser Industries, LLC, out of Oxford, Maine.

The addition was to be hoisted to the second floor of the home at 1007 Reef Road, a small, one-story house within a flood zone in the town's shoreline neighborhood. The house is being renovated and, when complete, the first floor will be a car port. Modular additions are being used to create new living space on the second level. The pre-fab front of the second-floor addition had already been delivered and is in place.

The home's owners live in North Carolina and use the Reef Road house as a summer residence home.

The modular addition had a State Police escort, which had an approved route for the oversized load to leave Interstate 95 at Exit 23 (Kings Highway), where there are no bridges to pass under. However, the driver told police they got off the wrong exit.

The trucker was driving south on North Benson Road after leaving I-95 about 4 a.m. Thursday, escorted by a company car and a State Police cruiser, according to the Fairfield police report. Another State Police cruiser followed behind the truck.

After the first state trooper passed under the North Benson bridge off Exit 22, he realized the truck and its load would be too high and radioed back to the second state trooper in an effort to stop the truck. The second trooper said he tried to catch up to the truck and activated his cruiser lights and siren, but it was too late.

The truck driver said he was checking his GPS unit, and missed the warning signs posted about the bridge's low clearance. The North Benson bridge's clearance is 10 feet, 5 inches, while the house atop the truck's flat bed was 13 feet, 6 inches high.

State Police and RJF-Keiser Industries did not return calls for comment.

Police said the collision did not damage the bridge, according to an inspection by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA also took over the cleanup operation, which kept a portion of North Benson Road closed all Thursday morning.

Genevieve Reilly

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