Tanker truck explodes, closing I-70 in east Kansas City - KCTV5

MODOT: I-70 reopens overnight

Posted: Updated:
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Eastbound Interstate 70 in east Kansas City reopened about 11:30 p.m. Friday following a wreck and explosion near Manchester Trafficway, just in time for some people leaving the Royals game.

Both directions were open a short time later.

The reopening of the highway had been delayed because of the hazardous materials involved and damage to a tanker's valves. It complicated the removal of hazardous and flammable materials from the overturned tanker.

The tanker was removed by 8 p.m. Friday and the cleanup began. Once the highway was flushed, highway workers worked to repair the road and begin opening up lanes.

The Missouri Department of Transportation agency had warned motorists to plan for alternative routes tonight, including getting to Kauffman Stadium for the Royals game that started just after 7 p.m.

Many fans got to the stadium sooner than normal out of an abundance of caution. Normally the post-work crowd show up around 6:30 p.m., but Friday it was more like 5 p.m., workers said.

Carole Decker and her friends were looking forward to ladies' night and treated their revised route like a tour of city spots they'd never seen before.

"We wandered around, kind of the industrial area and down Emmanuel Cleaver Boulevard, Leeds Parkway and trains and buses, but we made it, and we were having a great time along the way," Decker said.

One family came all the way from southeast Kansas and made adjustments thanks to social media.

"I posted a comment on Facebook and said we were coming up and someone posted and said be careful of the traffic," Jessica Myers said.

The wreck caused massive traffic headaches that lasted for most of Friday.

The tanker truck carrying polyacetate, a substance used in glue, crashed into the median and burst into a fireball at 4:45 a.m. Friday. The tanker was also carrying a flammable liquid-like paint thinner.

Traffic was being stopped at I-435 on the east and Highway 40 on the west.

The tanker was the only vehicle involved in this wreck, which occurred just west of the Truman Sports Complex.

Alternatives routes were 23rd Street or Highway 40. Motorists were also taking I-435 to access other roads. Traffic on westbound I-70 was backed up as motorists tried to get off at I-435.

The driver leaped from the truck just before the crash. He was treated for minor injuries but is otherwise OK. Police said he told investigators that the load shifted, causing the crash. The man was hauling a semi with three chambers.

Because of the chemicals sprayed to put out the fire, the highway was expected to remain closed for some time. In addition, a portion of the concrete median was pushed into the eastbound lanes. An overhead sign was melted because of the intense heat from the flames.

Saturday, the same median sat charred, but back in the middle of the highway.

"Workers and emergency personnel are exercising extreme caution, investigating the safest way to remove potentially explosive liquid from the damaged tanker," MODOT said in a news release. "Safety of the public and of responders to this incident are the highest priority until the dangers posed by the cleanup are neutralized."

MODOT had hoped to re-open two eastbound lanes after 1 p.m. and the westbound lanes by rush hour. That proved to be futile.

"Fans coming to tonight's Kansas City Royals game at Kauffman Stadium from the west should consider alternate routes. Those coming from the east on westbound I-70 may also want to consider exiting sooner onto Route 40 and entering the sports complex from other routes," according to the MODOT news release.

However, Highway 40 was a parking lot from rush hour traffic.

"I-435 may offer the best access to the Truman Sports Complex and Kauffman Stadium," MODOT advised. "Those heading to the game should leave much earlier than planned."

Despite the re-routing, Friday was a beautiful day for a ball game and a mere traffic jam wasn't enough to keep folks away. Large crowds still showed up to cheer on their team.

To help expedite the work, highway workers staged equipment and replacement materials on site so they can be used as soon as the cleanup is completed and the tanker and the rig removed.

Laura McCallister contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow
KCTV 5 News

Online Public File:
KCTV  KSMO

Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2014, KCTV; Kansas City, MO. (A Meredith Corporation Station) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.