I-95 in Connecticut Will Be Closed for Days After Fiery Crash

A section of Interstate 95 in Connecticut will be shut down for several days after a tanker containing thousands of gallons of fuel ignited an intense fire that damaged a bridge over the highway, Gov. Ned Lamont said on Thursday.

The closure of I-95, the main artery along the East Coast from Maine to South Florida and one of America’s busiest highways, disrupted a major link between Connecticut and New York City. It is expected to force tens of thousands of commuters to take detours or other modes of transportation and worsen the congestion of surrounding roads for days.

By Friday morning, officials were busy preparing for what was expected to be a nightmarish morning commute. Local news stations showed live footage of clogged exit ramps and other roadways, suggesting that drivers may want to add an hour to their journeys.

Nearby school districts were also affected. Norwalk Public Schools canceled classes on Friday but said certain after-school activities, like prom, would move forward as planned. Public schools in Stamford and Darien were scheduled to operate on a two-hour delay.

The crash on Thursday at 5:30 a.m. happened under a bridge near an exit in Norwalk, Conn. It involved a passenger car and two tractor-trailer trucks, one of which carried fuel, heading southbound. It did not cause any serious injuries but damaged the overpass so badly that it needed to be demolished, said Mr. Lamont, who also declared a state of emergency.

“The heat from the burning fuel compromised some of the bridge, so that bridge is going to have to come down,” he said in a news conference Thursday afternoon. The highway will be closed at least until Monday, he said.

The episode followed a recent crash that had led to the closure of another section of I-95 last year. A tanker carrying gasoline in Philadelphia crashed in June, igniting a fire that caused a portion of the highway to collapse. Officials initially expected the repair to take months. But the highway reopened in less than two weeks.

The fuel truck that crashed on Thursday was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline, said William Turner, the state emergency management director. A team was cleaning up the gasoline that spilled, and industrial vacuum trucks were offloading the gasoline that remained in the damaged tanker.

About 150,000 vehicles travel through the section of I-95 in Norwalk daily, according to traffic data from the state’s Department of Transportation.

A text message was sent to residents in Connecticut urging them to stay away from the area after the crash, which caused a traffic jam, and a notice was given to trucking companies to take alternative routes like I-84, Mr. Lamont said. He also suggested that people work from home.

The blaze ignited directly under the bridge, which was less than 10 years old, warping the steel parts of the structure and requiring it to be demolished, said Garrett Eucalitto, the state’s transportation commissioner, at the news conference.

The demolition began early on Friday and take about 24 hours to complete, Mr. Lamont said at the news conference. The section of I-95 could reopen for the Monday morning commute, he said.

“I know what an incredible inconvenience this is for people,” he said. The state police were investigating what had led to the crash.

Back to top button