Posted on February 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM
Friday, Feb 15 at 5:41 PM
AUSTIN -- Interstate 35 has reopened after a collision between two 18-wheeler trucks caused the highway to be shut down for hours.
The southbound lanes of I-35 at Riverside were shut down after the semi trucks collided Thursday night.
The crash turned into a hazmat scene. Austin police Sgt. Rodney Moeller says one of the trailers was filled with car batteries and some cracked in the collision. The acid inside leaked onto the road. The clean up of the road meant working slowly to unload all the batteries.
Hazmat crews went through each one checking for cracks and leaks. They loaded them onto pallets and hauled them away a little at a time.
“They're in their safety gear and everything,” explained Sgt. Moeller. “They're car batteries so they're trying to take them off as they are without breaking them, which would delay it even further. It's just a slow process.”
Austin police said the cleanup took longer than expected. Just after noon the highway reopened.
Sgt. Moeller says the two 18-wheelers collided when one of the trucks jack-knifed and went over the concrete median into oncoming traffic. That's when police say the other 18-wheeler driver swerved to avoid hitting head-on. The trailers on both trucks collided and split open.
The License and Weight Unit of APD’s Highway Enforcement Team is investigating. Sgt. Moeller says detectives will have to go through all of the broken parts of both trucks and interview both drivers as well as witnesses.
Moeller says the team is investigating whether the brakes went out in the truck that jack-knifed. No charges have been filed.
Meanwhile traffic along the frontage road continued to pile up as all southbound drivers were forced to exit the highway around Riverside Drive. Police closed the Riverside Drive bridge to traffic in an effort to keep traffic along the frontage moving.
During the 13-and-a-half hour closure, cars were diverted off at Riverside. Several people on the feeder said they'd been in stop-and-go traffic on the highway for two-and-a-half hours.
However, Ken Krouse on his way to San Antonio was in good spirits.
"Patience is the name of the game I guess," Krouse said. He added that you have to expect some trouble on a road as busy as I-35.