Smooth Sailing on 880 Day After Huge Tanker Explosion

What a difference a day makes

 The California Department of Transportation managed to reopen  southbound Interstate Highway 880 ahead of schedule after a major crash and  fire Wednesday morning, but work on the highway will likely continue for a  couple of weeks, a Caltrans spokesman said today.

The accident happened around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday when a  double-tanker gas truck and a black Acura crashed, triggering an explosion  that damaged a 100-foot stretch of the highway.

The collision shut down southbound Highway 880 for most of the day  as crews uprighted the tanker and then ground down the road to see how deep  the damage extended. Excavators were on standby in case further digging was  needed.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said crews poured in asphalt after  officials determined the road was stable, and managed to reopen the highway  around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday.

Within the next week and a half, crews are expected to start  replacing the concrete slabs on the damaged stretch of highway, Haus said.

"We have to dig out completely the existing concrete slabs and  replace them with new ones," he said.

The work will be done overnight and should not have a major effect  on commuters, Haus said.

He said crews will likely close two lanes at a time to complete  the project.

A preliminary investigation by the California Highway Patrol  indicated Wednesday's collision occurred when the driver of the Acura, who  was traveling with her 5-year-old child and a coworker, lost control of the  vehicle while attempting to make a lane change, CHP Officer Sam Morgan said.

The car skidded across the highway from the fast lane, collided  into the tanker and was propelled back across the freeway to the center  divide, according to Morgan.

The driver of the tanker applied his brakes, but the rear trailer  flipped over, followed by the second trailer and the cab.

No one was injured in the collision.

"All parties involved were very fortunate to not be injured, as  were other motorists traveling through the area," Morgan said. "We were very  fortunate to not have any loss of life or other injuries."

The crash prompted a multi-agency response and the California  Water Control Board, state Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Coast Guard, an  Oakland fire hazmat team, and various local and county officials assisted in  the cleanup.  

According to the Oakland Fire Department, some gasoline and foam  used to extinguish the fire reached the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, but the  crash had minimal impact on the water.

Morgan said traffic on the highway was back to normal this  morning.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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