March 26, 2004 - Connecticut Truck Wreck May Shut I-95 Stretch 2 Weeks
A stretch of Interstate 95 in Connecticut used by as many as 40,000 trucks a day may be closed for two weeks because of structural damage caused by an oil tanker truck that crashed and caught fire, a spokesman for Governor John G. Rowland said.
The repair time estimate for the major Northeast U.S. commercial transportation corridor ``could be adjusted up or down depending on the analysis'' of state highway engineers, who are inspecting the elevated roadway where the truck erupted into flames at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, the spokesman, John Wiltse said.
Deliveries delays may range from six hours to as long as a day while as many as 40,000 trucks that use the corridor each use other routes, said Jack Legler, vice president of the Highway Watch program for the American Trucking Associations trade group.
``It's kind of a large mess,'' Legler said in a telephone interview. ``It's going to be a pretty significant disruption for a couple weeks.''
The association is using Web sites, e-mails, faxes and telephone calls to alert its 40,000 member companies of the problem and to suggest alternate routing, Legler said. The association is sending traffic along Interstates 684, 84 and 90, he said.
State of Emergency
Wiltse said Rowland has declared a state of emergency allowing Connecticut to pursue U.S. government funds to pay for what is initially estimated to be a $3 million to $4 million- repair bill.
About 120,000 vehicles a day travel the highway in Connecticut. Interstate 95, which runs from Florida to Maine, is a principal route for long-distance commercial traffic on the U.S. East Coast.
The closed section runs for about 2 miles between Exits 25 and 27. Southbound traffic was diverted at exit 27A to Route 25 north, where cars are then using the Merritt Parkway, and trucks are being diverted to Route 8 north to Interstate 84, a state police statement says. Northbound traffic is being diverted at exit 25 onto side streets through Bridgeport and then back on Interstate 95.
United Parcel Service Inc., the world's largest package- delivery company, reported no closing-related delays, said Jackie Larson, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company. UPS's New York City-based traffic dispatching center, which covers the Bridgeport area, rerouted trucks around the accident, she said.
The truck spilled No. 2 home heating oil that leaked into Cedar Creek, which empties into Bridgeport's Black Rock Harbor. The state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard set up booms to contain the oil and keep it from entering Long Island Sound.
Police advised motorists today to avoid the highway. ``Take alternate routes,'' said Sergeant Paul Vance, a state police spokesman. ``But for people who decide to still try to use this corridor to travel, expect heavy delays. Be patient and try to allow for a tremendous amount of extra time.''
The accident occurred when a car, driven by Sarah Waddle of Derby, Connecticut, and a tanker truck, driven by Gilbert Robinson of Naugatuck, Connecticut, collided in the southbound lanes near exit 26, Vance said. The ages of the two drivers weren't available and the exact details of the accident are under investigation, he said.
``The highway immediately erupted in flame, the operator of the truck and car ran for their lives, literally,'' Vance said.
Both Waddle and Robinson were treated for minor injuries and released from a local hospital, Vance said.
There wasn't an immediate estimate of highway repair costs, Wiltse said.
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