Skip to comments.Fiery crash collapses Bay Area freeway
Posted on 04/29/2007 9:27:55 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Fiery crash collapses Bay Area freeway
By MARCUS WOHLSEN, Associated Press Writer 57 minutes ago
OAKLAND, Calif. - A gasoline tanker crashed and burst into flames near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Sunday, creating such intense heat that a stretch of highway melted and collapsed. Officials predicted a traffic nightmare for Bay Area commuters for weeks or months to come.
Flames shot 200 feet in the air, but the truck's driver walked away from the scene with second-degree burns. No other injuries were reported in the 3:45 a.m. crash, which officials said could have been deadly had it occurred at a busier time.
"I've never seen anything like it," Officer Trent Cross of the California Highway Patrol said of the crumpled interchange. "I'm looking at this thinking, 'Wow, no one died' that's amazing. It's just very fortunate."
Authorities said the damage could take months to repair, and that it would cause the worst disruption for Bay Area commuters since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged a section of the Bay Bridge itself.
Nearly 75,000 vehicles a day use the interchange, which connects westbound lanes of Interstate 80 to southbound I-880, on the edge of downtown Oakland about half a mile from the Bay Bridge's toll plaza. But Because the accident occured where three highways converge, authorities said it could cause commuting problems for hundreds of thousands of people.
State transportation officials said 280,000 commuters take the bridge into San Francisco each day.
On Sunday the collapse doubled the half-hour trip drivers normally face getting to and from San Francisco and the eastern suburbs even though many didn't even attempt the trip because of the crash. Traffic appeared light on the bridge itself, but motorists looking to get on and off were backed up on both sides.
Transportation officials said they already had added trains to the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system that takes commuters across San Francisco Bay, and were urging people to telecommute if possible. In preparation for rush hour, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized funding so that ferries, buses and the rail system could carry commuters free of charge during Monday's commute.
State officials said motorists who try to take alternate routes Monday instead of relying on public transportation would face nightmarish commutes.
The tanker carrying 8,600 gallons of gasoline ignited after crashing into a pylon on the interchange.
The driver, James Mosqueda, 51, of Woodland, was headed from a refinery in Benicia to a gas station near the Oakland Airport when the accident occurred, according to the California Highway Patrol.
A preliminary investigation indicated he may have been speeding on the curving road, Cross said. Mosqueda was being treated in a hospital for burns Sunday; the hospital would not transfer media calls to his room.
Witnesses reported flames rising up to 200 feet into the air. Heat exceeded 2,750 degrees and caused the steel beams holding up the interchange from eastbound I-80 to eastbound Interstate 580 above to buckle and bolts holding the structure together to melt, leading to the collapse, California Department of Transportation director Will Kempton said.
The charred section of collapsed freeway was draped at a sharp angle onto the highway beneath, exposing a web of twisted metal beneath the concrete. Officials said that altogether a 250-yard portion of the upper roadway was damaged.
The cost of the repairs would likely run into the tens of millions of dollars, and the state was seeking federal disaster aid, Kempton said. Schwarzenegger late Sunday issued an emergency declaration to allow repairs to happen faster, said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor's spokesman.
The Bay Bridge consists of two heavily traveled, double-decked bridges about two miles long straddling San Francisco Bay.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the accident showed how fragile the Bay area's transportation network is, whether to an earthquake or terrorist attack, and has the potential to have a major economic effect on the city.
"It's another giant wakeup call," Newsom told reporters at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego.
I guess this must be only the second time in history fire has melted steel.
I think this happened last night
Again? There have been so many of those accidents today. How is traffic able to move in San Francisco with so many freeways destroyed?
This is a bogus story...everyone know fire can’t melt steel. Rosie says so, it has to be true.
Must be another explanation. According to Rosy it can’t be true. Saw a video on You Tube where a sociology prof also proved it couldn’t happen with a chicken wire model..../sarc
About 14 hours ago ...
Interesting to note that while driving home from a Sunday dinner in Alameda almost everyone was going 55 - 65mph vs 75- 80 on the 880 - 980 and 580 - I went to the site this afternoon to see - whew! reminded me of a war zone strike.
The driver (Hispanic) had been working for the trucking co. fo 10 months - I don’t think their insurance is going to cover the cost - Caltrans sez they have to do testing of the adjacent spans before repair work can commence - duh! - well OK - good engineering.
The Maze can be fun to go theu at speed when you have a vehicle that can take the side G-Force - this driver clearly did not have his company, his self, his family and the general welfare of the public at large in his mind when he wen through it with a big-rig - Papasmrf has much to say on this that is right on.
We know that can’t happen. They must have lined the freeway with explosives before they made it happen on purpose. Those BFEE guys.
I wonder what SanFran did to them?
I saw that too! It’s a conspiracy!
Accordig to many DUmmies, it would be a first.
Driver, legal or ILLEGAL USA resident?
Another inside job by the Bush Administration.
I had heard that Rosie did not think that heat could melt steel.
However, in not to distant future the Devil will surely prove her much wrong with a personal lesson on heat and she probably will not like what she learns.
Fiery Crash Collapses California Freeway
Posted by jdietz
On General/Chat 04/29/2007 6:41:06 PM PDT · 14 replies · 616+ views
AP ^ | 4/29/2007 | MARCUS WOHLSEN
Fiery Crash Collapses California Freeway (Hey Rosie! Gas Fire Melts Steel!)
Posted by Captain Shamrock
On News/Activism 04/29/2007 3:41:40 PM PDT · 63 replies · 1,464+ views
AP ^ | Apr 29, 4:45 PM (ET) | MARCUS WOHLSEN
California Interchange Collapses After Tanker Fire
Posted by Grendel9
On News/Activism 04/29/2007 12:08:56 PM PDT · 24 replies · 698+ views
BREAKING NEWS: Tanker Explosion Causes Freeway Collapse
Posted by WSGilcrest
On News/Activism 04/29/2007 6:40:56 AM PDT · 240 replies · 6,932+ views
>> Better bolts next time...
“Driver, legal or ILLEGAL USA resident?”
We don’t know yet - what ever I think his @ss and his company have a major problem ... their Insurance surely doesen’t cover 20+ MILLION liability for an accident claim.
Speculation - he is legal - the trucking co. is toast.
That’s a pretty bad stretch of freeway IIRC.
The gas station that was his destination was probably on Hegenberger road.
Glad he walked away alive.
I'm not sure how he survived. Thank God there were no casualties from this disaster.
I blame the 90% of speed limits that are set too low.
People get used to ignoring low limits. Then when they need to heed that 10% that are actually do promote safe driving, they ignore those, too, and then accidents happen.