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I-95 Crash and Aftermath

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Posted

Fiery crash shuts I-95 section in Conn.

06:24 PM EST on Friday, March 26, 2004

The Associated Press

L_IMAGE.fac4e2432c.93.88.fa.80.c36558e3.jpg

AP photo

An aerial view reveals a buckled stretch of I-95 in Bridgeport, Conn., caused by a fiery crash last night between a fuel truck and car. The damage is expected to close part of the heavily-traveled artery for up to two weeks.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A section of the main traffic artery linking New York and Boston could be shut down for up to two weeks following a fiery tanker truck accident that melted a bridge on Interstate 95, Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland said today.

``It's going to be a pain in the neck,'' Rowland said this morning after surveying the scene between exits 25 and 27.

State police said a car apparently forced a tanker truck carrying 12,000 gallons of fuel oil into a guardrail, sparking a huge fire that burned for a couple of hours and damaged both sides of the highway last night.

No one was seriously injured.

Ronald Jantzen, a state Department of Transportation engineer, said the highway buckled and the overpass, which was new, sagged several feet. He described the southbound side of the interstate as ``totaled.'' He said the northbound lanes may be salvageable but engineers could not get close enough to take measurements this morning.

``All we've been able to do is stand around it and say, `Oh my God,''' Jantzen said.

Commuters along the I-95 corridor were left with few alternatives today.

Metro-North Railroad braced for more riders and the possibility that portions of I-95 will be closed for weeks.But the crowded commuter line is recovering from breakdowns that plagued its aging fleet this winter, and already had every available car in operation.

"If necessary, we will have some express trains make some local stops," a Metro-North spokeswoman said.

After touring the site this morning, Rowland said he would declare a state of emergency, which would make the project eligible for some federal funding. He said that work to reopen the highway would begin immediately and was expected to take at least 12 to 14 days at a cost of $3 million to $4 million.

Art Greuhn, the chief engineer for the state DOT, said crews would begin demolishing the southbound bridge today.

Authorities said the fire damaged the steel support beams that carry both sides of the highway over Howard Avenue.

``It was such an intense heat that it melted the bridge,'' said Wallace Thomas, Bridgeport's deputy fire chief. ``Once it sagged, it made a pool of burning fuel oil.''

I-95 is a vital and heavily congested artery connecting the New York City area with Connecticut and the rest of New England. Nearly 120,000 vehicles a day travel the span where the crash occurred.

State officials urged motorists, especially tractor-trailer drivers, to avoid I-95 and the Bridgeport area until the highway is fixed.

Southbound traffic was being diverted to Route 25 and the Merritt Parkway, a historic highway that is closed to commercial truck traffic. Broadcast reports said several tractor-trailers tried to use the Merritt but were stopped by police.

Trucks southbound on I-95 were sent to Route 8 and Interstate 84. But a tractor-trailer jackknifed on that the northbound side of Route 8 this morning, adding to the traffic nightmare.

Northbound cars and trucks were being rerouted through city streets and back onto Interstate 95.

The Metro-North commuter railroad between Connecticut and New York City planned to have express trains make some local stops if necessary.

Vance urged commercial truck traffic from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts to enter Connecticut on I-84 or not at all.

I-95 has been the scene of many traffic disasters over the years, including a crash last year that killed four Yale University students and the 1983 Mianus River Bridge collapse in Greenwich that killed three people.

The truck driver in yesterday's accident and a firefighter appeared to be the only people who required medical attention.

The truck driver, Gilbert Robinson, 33, of Naugatuck, was treated at Bridgeport Hospital and released. He declined to comment when reached by telephone this morning. Robinson was driving a 2000 Mack owned by Island Transport of Connecticut and Long Island, N.Y.

An unidentified firefighter was overcome by fumes and brought to the hospital for observation.

Robinson was driving south on I-95 when his truck and another vehicle crashed shortly before 8 p.m. Witnesses said they heard explosions and saw a gigantic fireball shoot into the sky.

State police identified the driver of the car involved in the accident as Sarah Waddle of Derby. No charges were immediately filed.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican who represents the Fairfield County area, said he would tour the accident site. He said he was working with city and state officials to ensure the state had access to federal experts.

``I feel very confident the state has the capability to figure out what has to be done to make this as painless as possible,'' he said.

Authorities believe more than 8,000 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil spilled from the tanker. The oil that didn't burn seeped into storm drains in the road below and into Black Rock Harbor. Coast Guard officials used a buoy system to control the contamination.

Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection were assessing the damage, which they called minor.

From The Providence Journal

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Posted

Tanker001.jpg

A TANKER TRUCK loaded with heating oil burns out of control on I-95 in Bridgeport Thursday night after a collision near Exit 26 in the southbound lane. The fire

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Posted

I saw that on the news. Thats crazy

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Posted

Well at leas there's an alternative to I-95 around Bridgeport (something like "Merrill River Parkway" (?), it bypasses to the north). But ouch, that inferno would've shocked me in the night.

Good to hear that no one was killed or seriously injured though.

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Posted

Northbound reopened today, and they are expecting southbound to reopen by the end of the week.

The Merritt Parkway is a good alternative around Bridgeport, but it is only two lanes and trucks are not allowed on it, it's a parkway and the bridges are too low for trucking. I-84 and I-90 are the best alternatives for trucks, but they are already very crowded highways in there own right. Massive amounts of truck traffic use I-95 through Connecticut daily. The New England economy is going to be bruised by this interuption in trucking.

A happy side effect may be the conversion of some commutes to rail. MetroNorth is operating extra service between New Haven and New York, hopefully some people who never rode the train before will be converted.

I must say, that area of I-95 through Bridgeport is one of the scariest stretches of highway I've ever been on. It is a perpetual construction zone, the lanes are too narrow and often extremely bumpy, and you have huge trucks within inches of you all moving at 70MPH. White knuckle driving to the max, I usually take the Merritt.

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Posted

"I must say, that area of I-95 through Bridgeport is one of the scariest stretches of highway I've ever been on. It is a perpetual construction zone, the lanes are too narrow and often extremely bumpy, and you have huge trucks within inches of you all moving at 70MPH."

Sounds like I-75 heading down to Detroit. 85 MPH bumper to bumper traffic...unless it rains...then everything grinds to a hault.

I heard about this on the news. We had an incident here just over a year ago when a tanker truck exploded, creating a monstrous fireball several hundred feet wide. It actually melted the plastic trim on cars driving on the other side of the road. And it knocked out power...not to mention that a nearby bridge that was totally destroyed & had to be closed & completely rebuilt.

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Posted

Northbound reopened today, and they are expecting southbound to reopen by the end of the week.

I've probably got nothing to worry about, but I'm flying out of Hartford on Monday, and I haven't heard anything of I-95's re-opening. I really don't want to have to take a detour. Any news?

Edit: Oy, my bad. Bridgeport, not Hartford. Hehe, silly me. :lol:

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Posted

This is old news, it's all good now. But I did here something about a substantial truck fire on 95 in CT earlier this week. 95 through parts of CT is quite dangerous, and it is hugely important to the regional economy, something really has to be done about the road's safety.

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Posted

Troopers getting the job done on Interstate 95

Published Sunday July 11

Oh how sweet it is! That little pseudo sports car whipping in and out of lawfully sluggish traffic draws a state trooper just north of the 27 entrance ramp to Interstate 95.

On come the lights and siren. Zoom, zoom. Busted! HA!

Like a cowboy cutting one steer out of a stampede, the trooper expertly herds the speeder to the shoulder.

This commuter's NASCAR fantasies are going to cost him several hundred dollars.

He recently joined more than 8,500 motorists nailed along a treacherous stretch of the turnpike that passes through Bridgeport.

After a series of spectacular crashes, State Police responded with a massive enforcement effort.

Through June of this year, speeding citations in the area are up almost 1,200 percent over the same period last year. That's right: One thousand two hundred percent.

The speed limit through this cursed eternal construction zone is 45 miles per hour. Let the message go forth: Obey it or pay.

Certainly even the biggest ticket is less than a deadly crash, but we humans seem to understand that tickets can happen to us while believing wrecks happen only to others.

One thing is clear: Stringent enforcement is working.

Since enforcement increased, anyone who regularly drives this highway from hell can see the overall slowdown in the more than 120,000 vehicles a day that surge along it.

Most telling is the fact that the wreck-o-rama show out there is abated.

So far

knock wood

we haven't had the catastrophic big one that inexorable statistics dictated should have happened by now if the recent wreck rate continued.

The way we were going, it was only a matter of time.

Sgt. Paul Vance, State Police public information officer, said increased enforcement has an impact. One of the biggest pluses we have is we can put personnel in the area. It's expensive, but it works."

True. But it's certainly not as expensive as highway holocaust.

For troopers who get the assignment, it's tough, dangerous duty. Hours of sedentary monotony followed by heart-pounding pursuit.

"It's a hazardous situation, going 0 to 60 to catch up with violators and pulling them over," Vance said.

A couple of readers have asked if police chasing speeders and pulling them over isn't a bigger risk to the public than just letting them go.

Nope. The data show that enforcement works. Lack of enforcement increases carnage.

And Vance points out that troopers are professionals in traffic law enforcement.

"It's a major portion of their eight months of training. It's continually updated, and it's ongoing training."

Vance said he does not have a breakdown on how many of the almost 9,000 speeding tickets are handed out to people driving cars or trucks, or whether they are from in-state or out-of-state drivers.

"We want to think we are getting voluntary compliance from Connecticut residents; that out-of-state either aren't reading signs or are ignoring them.

"With the extreme volume of traffic, you would think people would slow down," Vance said.

"People seem to be pushing the limit, always in such a hurry to get nowhere fast."

But one thing is clear. "People are surprised when they see the resources devoted to that area."

And they are slowing down, eventually.

Even the irresponsible drivers who think they can gun it when they see one or two cruisers with speeders pulled over slow down when they see the third a mile or so later, radar gun aimed at them like an accusing finger.

Even some of us who accelerate up a ramp each night, minds still consumed by work, and inadvertently let it drift over that 45 mark think to slow down when we see such a massive police presence.

Oops. Hey, if I slip, nail me. I'll thank you for it.

Experts are studying long-term solutions to the special problems in I-95 construction zones. Until those pan out, the best quick fix is massive enforcement.

Many, including the Connecticut Post and state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, called for it last month, and the state responded.

We all need to thank the men and women slowing us down and saving our lives.

From Connecticut Post

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Posted

The substandard built portions of I-95 where its 45-50mph, i could see enforcement making the highway safter from many people almost doubling the speed limit. The portion between New Haven and Rhode Island with the exception of New London, theres no need for enforcement on that stretch of highway with it being 65mph since most are not going more than 10mph over. There has been several times im doing 75 in the 55 zones at night time along I-95 through the state where a cop NEVER pulled over PASSING RIGHT BY ME simply because i would never drive in the passing lane. Its not unusual for idiots who do drive in the passing lane on I-95 through New England get pulled over for failing to keep right more so than south and west of New Jersey. I always drive away with a :)

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The substandard built portions of I-95 where its 45-50mph, i could see enforcement making the highway safter from many people almost doubling the speed limit. The portion between New Haven and Rhode Island with the exception of New London, theres no need for enforcement on that stretch of highway with it being 65mph since most are not going more than 10mph over. There has been several times im doing 75 in the 55 zones at night time along I-95 through the state where a cop NEVER pulled over PASSING RIGHT BY ME simply because i would never drive in the passing lane. Its not unusual for idiots who do drive in the passing lane on I-95 through New England get pulled over for failing to keep right more so than south and west of New Jersey. I always drive away with a :)

the strip between new haven and RI does need enforcement. my car was totalled in an accident when a young girl hit me from behind (side swiping the car behind me and pushing me into the car in front of me, our accident resulting in others behind us). i had seen her car several times on the highway (i passed her and she passed me). i was going the same speed of traffic (about 45-55 that day in east lyme because of heavy traffic). she was weaving in and out doing 65-70 at the very least, getting stuck behind cars (which is when i passed her). traffic came to a quick stop because of an accident ahead of us. and that was all it took because she was going too slow in the right lane, switched lanes and hit me mid-switch.

it might seem like that part of the highway doesn't have a lot of traffic and that everyone is going at between 65 and 75... not the case at all. it gets heavily congested on holidays and every weekend in the summer. it's a different troop than those towards bridgeport anyways. 95 needs enforcement from the NY border to teh RI border (ok, maybe not between exit 92 and the RI border, but 92 takes you to misquamicut). the most dangerous parts are between norwalk (around exit 15 or so) and branford (around exit 55).

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