CINCINNATI — Tons of concrete and steel covered the southbound lanes of a major Cincinnati artery Tuesday after an overpass collapse during demolition work left one worker dead, a tractor-trailer driver injured and police considering what the potential toll might have been had the accident occurred amid heavy traffic.

The removal of debris from Interstate 75 began Tuesday afternoon and was expected to take 24 to 48 hours. Ohio transportation authorities will then assess the pavement where the section of overpass deck landed Monday night with what a resident described as an earth-shaking thud.

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said casualties could have been much higher had the accident occurred at a busy time on the interstate that carries more than 178,000 vehicles a day through the area some five miles north of the Ohio River.

Authorities identified the worker who was killed as Brandon William Carl, 35, of Augusta, Kentucky. The Hamilton County coroner’s office will do an autopsy to determine cause of death; Cincinnati fire officials said the body was recovered from rubble with the help of air bags and special equipment early Tuesday morning, about four hours after the accident.

The name of the tractor-trailer driver wasn’t released immediately. He was taken to a hospital with what were described as minor injuries. His truck slammed into the overpass as the debris landed.