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I-95 closed after serious truck accident in Connecticut

NORWALK, Connecticut – I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut is closed in both directions and will not reopen for several days following a tanker truck accident burst into flames under an overpass Thursday morning.

Officials called it a chain reaction crash. Just before dawn, a car came in front of a truck pulling a flatbed trailer as a tanker truck approached the Fairfield Avenue overpass just past exit 15 heading south.

“To avoid it, that semi-truck turned right and struck the other semi-truck, ripping open the bed of his gas tanker,” said Stephen Shay of the Norwalk Fire Department.

State of Emergency in Connecticut

Governor of Connecticut. Ned Lamont A state of emergency has been declared as motorists struggle to navigate detours, resulting in traffic gridlock and a slowdown in business.

“I'm worried about supply chain issues… I think that will definitely impact local retailers,” Lamont said.

Local roads were a chaotic mess as thousands of drivers traveling on one of the nation's busiest highways were diverted around the scene of the accident.

The northbound lanes are closed to all traffic at Exit 14 and the southbound lanes are closed at Exit 15. Travelers are advised to use I-84 as an alternate route through the state.

Metro-North has additional staff on call in case additional trains are needed.

Norwalk Public Schools will be closed Friday due to possible traffic congestion. All training sessions have been canceled until the weekend, but sports games, theater performances and proms can still take place.

Connecticut officials are urging employers to let employees work from home if possible.

Bridge must be demolished

On May 2, 2024, a fuel tanker crashed under an overpass on I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut and burst into flames.  The highway remained closed while a crew assessed the damage.  / Photo credit: Chopper 2

On May 2, 2024, a fuel tanker crashed under an overpass on I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut and burst into flames. The highway remained closed while a crew assessed the damage. / Photo credit: Chopper 2

The flames spread across the highway and burned the overpass. The fire caused significant damage to the structure and the gas, telephone and cable service lines running beneath it.

“This bridge is less than 10 years old, but the damage was quite severe due to the amount of gasoline that was in the tanker. It ignited directly under the bridge structure. The seal began to overheat and warp,” said a Connecticut Department of Transportation official said at a press conference. “Unfortunately, it is not possible to safely reopen the bridge under this bridge in both directions.”

“The bridge was damaged, the heat from the burning fuel damaged part of the bridge, so the bridge will have to be demolished,” Lamont said.

The official said crews would begin removing the bridge as soon as possible and hoped to reopen the highway by Monday morning.

“We will work through the weekend and then hopefully – weather permitting – have everything open again for commuter traffic on Monday morning,” the official said.

“Anyone driving into this area in this geographic area will receive a wireless alert on their cell phone advising them to avoid the area,” said Bill Turner, state emergency management director.

The closed section of I-95 serves 160,000 vehicles daily, according to the governor's office.

Lamont said demolition of the overpass will begin at 3 a.m. Friday. It is expected to last at least 24 hours. To complete the work, special equipment will be brought in from abroad.

Click here to see Chopper 2 over the scene

“The traffic jams are terrible”

The charred remains of two trucks and a passenger car lie on the shuttered I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut, after a fiery crash shut down the highway on May 2, 2024.  / Photo credit: CBS New YorkThe charred remains of two trucks and a passenger car lie on the shuttered I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut, after a fiery crash shut down the highway on May 2, 2024.  / Photo credit: CBS New York

The charred remains of two trucks and a passenger car lie on the shuttered I-95 in Norwalk, Connecticut, after a fiery crash shut down the highway on May 2, 2024. / Photo credit: CBS New York

“Thank God there were no serious injuries, but it did result in the closure of I-95 north and south, and that's unbelievable given the traffic jams and what's happening there,” Lamont said.

Hours after the fire was extinguished, the charred remains of two trucks and a passenger car lay on the closed highway between Exits 15 and 16.

According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the northbound lane closures began at Exit 13 in Darien.

“I know what an incredible inconvenience this is for people and I can only ask you to stay away from this area as best you can. The traffic jams are terrible,” Lamont said.

Drivers from Bridgeport to Port Chester, New York, received text message alerts to avoid I-95 and trucking companies were told to use I-87 and I-84 instead, Lamont said.

“For many truck drivers, we are on the clock. So we can only work 14 hours and drive 11 hours. So this impact slows down the delivery time for our loads,” said Avril Jenerette, a truck driver.

Motorists should expect delays on the Merritt Parkway, where trucks are not allowed, while crews work to clear the 95.

“Our highway team is working closely with the Connecticut Department of Transportation on the tanker fire that closed I-95 in Norwalk. Please pay attention to local authorities regarding diversions and avoid the area if possible. Thank you to the first responders attending to and manning the fire.” “All other drivers are safe,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg posted on social media.

Thousands of gallons of fuel were spilled

The aftermath of a tractor-trailer fire on I-95 in Connecticut on May 2, 2024. / Photo credit: CBS2The aftermath of a tractor-trailer fire on I-95 in Connecticut on May 2, 2024. / Photo credit: CBS2

The aftermath of a tractor-trailer fire on I-95 in Connecticut on May 2, 2024. / Photo credit: CBS2

The truck had 8,500 gallons of fuel on board, 75% of which had either burned or spilled onto the highway, officials said.

Hazardous materials teams responded to the spill and had concerns about material entering the Norwalk River, but testing showed no impact on air or water quality.

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