Part of I-95 in Connecticut will be closed for days after fiery truck crash under overpass

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Friday, May 3, 2024
Fiery truck crash shuts down I-95 in CT for days
Sonia Rincon is in Norwalk, CT with reaction to the I-95 closure and tanker fire.

NORWALK, Connecticut (WABC) -- Part of Interstate 95 in Connecticut will be closed until at least Monday after a tanker fire damaged a bridge over the highway, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

Lamont said demolition of the damaged bridge will begin at 3:00 a.m. on Friday.

"The heat from the burning fuel compromised some of the bridge, so that bridge is going to have to come down and that demolition is going to start first thing tomorrow morning," Lamont said at a briefing Thursday evening.

If all goes well, that section of I-95 could reopen on Monday.

Because of the detours in the area, Norwalk Public Schools will be closed on Friday, May 3 due to alleviate traffic. The district will allow athletic games, drama performances and proms to take place. All practices are canceled, the district said.

The multi-vehicle crash involved a fuel truck and passenger vehicle early Thursday morning, shutting down lanes of I-95 in both directions and causing significant traffic disruptions.

The crash happened in the southbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 15 in Norwalk at the Fairfield Avenue overpass around 5:30 a.m.

The tanker was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline when it was involved in the crash with a tractor-trailer and a passenger car. The inferno took nearly three hours to bring under control.

"This bridge is less than 10 years old and, you know, but the damage was pretty severe due to the amount of gasoline that was in the tanker ignited directly underneath the bridge structure," Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said. "The steel did begin to overheat and warp."

At the time of this writing, no injuries had been reported.

Text alerts were sent to residents of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey and trucking companies who use the route were notified to find alternative routes and means of travel, he said. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg also was notified.

"I know what an incredible inconvenience this is for people and all I can ask you to do is stay away from that area as best you can," Lamont said during an earlier briefing in Hartford. "The traffic jams are horrendous."

Traffic was backed up for dozens of miles (kilometers) during the morning rush hour and the crash left other highways and secondary roads in gridlock. The major alternate route in the area, the Merritt Parkway, cannot be used by trucks because the underpasses on that highway are too low. Slow moving detours were set up, taking traffic off the highway and around the accident scene.

The accident was reminiscent of last year's deadly accident in Philadelphia along I-95 when a tractor-trailer carrying gasoline lost control and caught fire, destroying a section of the highway.

Environmental crews were also working to clean up gasoline and firefighting foam. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the runoff was contained to a retention pond and did not make it into the Norwalk River.

"About 6,500 gallons of gasoline have either burned off or runoff, and our teams are conducting a cleanup operation along the Norwalk River. It's a complex situation involving local and state hazardous response teams," said State Emergency Management Director William Turner.

Utility lines running underneath the bridge were also damaged, causing telephone and internet outages.

The crash came just over a year after a similar wreck on Interstate 95 in Connecticut that forced the closure of the highway.

In April 2023, another fuel truck caught fire after colliding with a stopped car on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge between New London and Groton. The fuel truck driver was killed. The crash shut down the southbound side of the bridge for hours, while the northbound side was closed briefly. The driver of the car was recently charged with negligent homicide.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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