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Caltrans continues Highway 70 repairs following gasoline spill


Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
Updated 9/20/2011

Drivers taking Highway 70 between Plumas and Butte counties can expect delays near the county line until at least Friday, Sept. 23.

State Route 70 is undergoing repairs by Caltrans following a gasoline spill Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Caltrans spokeswoman Denise Yergenson said traffic is limited to one lane in each direction.

The highway was closed in both directions for nearly six hours the morning of Sept. 14 after a gasoline tanker truck spilled 1,800 gallons of fuel on the highway.

The spill occurred about two miles west of the county line at 6:40 a.m. when an eastbound gasoline tanker truck clipped the front end of a stationary Caltrans truck.

One lane of the highway was opened to traffic just after noon Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Doug Garrett.

Garrett said the accident happened when the tanker’s driver pulled off on a wide spot in the road to let a number of vehicles pass.

Garrett said the tanker driver didn’t see a Caltrans truck that was leaving the Pulga yard driveway.

“The tanker driver knew the area. And he knew that was a good place to pull off,” Garrett said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t see the Caltrans truck that was about 11 feet off the road, facing the highway at a 90 degree angle.”

The Caltrans truck was equipped with a blade for removing rocks from the side of the highway.

It was the blade that severed one of the gas lines on the side of the tanker, emptying one of the tanker’s fuel compartments.

“Within just a couple of minutes a tidal wave of gasoline gushed out of the tanker,” Garrett said.

A Butte County CalFire hazardous materials team responded to the accident.

“CalFire did a fantastic job clearing it up,” Garrett said. “It could have been a lot worse. There is a creek about 150 feet away that feeds into the river.”

Although none of the fuel reached the Feather River, Yergenson said Caltrans crews are removing and replacing about 900 cubic yards of asphalt and dirt in the cleanup process.

“It’s a big job,” Yergenson said. “Gasoline melts asphalt, so all of that roadway has to be replaced. And the gasoline seeps pretty deep into the ground. So it all has to be tested.”

The tanker, driven by Danny Houston Vaught, was headed from Redding to Susanville.

Garrett said Vaught wasn’t cited at the scene. However, he said the accident is still under investigation.

 

Update 5:15 p.m. –

Drivers taking Highway 70 between Plumas and Butte counties can expect delays near the county line until at least Friday.

State Route 70 was closed in both directions for nearly six hours Wednesday morning after a gasoline tanker truck spilled 1,800 gallons of fuel on the highway.

The accident occured about 2 miles west of the county line about 6:40 a.m. when an eastbound tanker clipped the front end of a stationary Caltrans truck.

One lane of the highway was opened to traffic just after noon Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol Spokesman Doug Garrett.

“It will be just one-lane traffic for a few days,” Garrett said. “But it should go pretty smoothly.”

Garrett said the accident happened when the tanker’s driver pulled off on a wide spot in the road to let a number of vehicles pass.

Garrett said the driver didn’t see a Caltrans truck that was leaving the Pulga yard driveway.

“The tanker driver knew the area. And he knew that was a good place to pull off,” Garrett said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t see the Caltrans truck that was about 11 feet off the road, facing the highway at a 90 degree angle.”

The Caltrans truck was equipped with a blade for removing rocks off the side of the highway.

It was the blade that severed one of the gas lines on the side of the tanker, emptying one of the tanker’s fuel compartments.

“Within just a couple of minutes a tidal wave of gasoline gushed out of the tanker,” Garrett said.

A Butte County Calfire HAZMAT team responded to the accident.

“Calfire did a fantastic job clearing it up,” Garrett said. “It could have been a lot worse. There is a creek about 150 away that feeds into the river.”

Although none of the fuel reached the Feather River, Garrett said Caltrans crews will be removing about 900 cubic feet of asphalt and dirt in the clean-up process.

The tanker, driven by Danny Houston Vaught, was headed from Redding to Susanville.

Garrett said Vaught wasn’t cited at the scene. However, he said the accident is still under investigation.

 


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