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Tanker crash closes part of East Coast highway

I-95 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, may be closed for 2 weeks

From Cheryl Bronson

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Flames shoot into the sky after the fuel oil tanker crashed and exploded.
A tanker caught fire, spilled 3,000 gallons of oil on I-95.
Disasters and Accidents

(CNN) -- Traffic in Bridgeport, Connecticut, dragged to a near-halt Friday morning, hours after an oil tanker crashed and burst into a ball of fire on Interstate 95, causing extensive damage to the roadway and forcing officials to close the interstate in both directions.

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland declared a state of emergency for Bridgeport and said it will take at least two weeks to repair the road.

The tanker carrying 9,000 gallons of heating oil collided with a car on an overpass, jackknifed and exploded, creating enough heat to buckle part of the southbound side of the Howard Avenue Overpass bridge, said state police spokesman Paul Vance.

About 3,000 gallons of oil spilled onto the highway, Vance said.

The driver of the tanker and drivers in surrounding cars managed to get out of their vehicles quickly and sustained minor injuries.

With traffic being re-routed on alternate roads, a tractor-trailer during Friday rush-hour jackknifed on the northbound lanes of Route 8, which had been earmarked as a detour for tractor trailers due to the crash on I-95.

The truck was blocking both northbound lanes, backing up traffic for miles and creating a further traffic nightmare for commuters.

State police said there were no injuries in the second crash but that the truck's gas tank ruptured, and authorities were now waiting for the state Department of Environmental Protection to clear the site to remove the truck and reopen the road.

Traffic on I-95 was closed in both directions between exits 25 and 27 following the tanker explosion Thursday night. About 120,000 drivers travel the stretch of highway daily, according to state police.

Rowland said work on the north- and southbound lanes of the Howard Avenue Overpass would begin immediately, with workers first removing the charred oil tanker.

"It's our hope that we'll be able to evaluate the northbound lane and determine whether that's going to be safe enough to maintain or if that has to come down too," Rowland said.

Rowland said declaring a state of emergency allows the state to seek federal funds to cover the repairs. He estimated it will cost between $3 million and $4 million to repair the road.

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