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.