I-95 in Connecticut will be closed for days after a fiery crash damaged the bridge, the governor says

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The main artery connecting New England to New York will be closed for days in Connecticut after a tanker fire damaged a bridge over Interstate 95, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

The tanker truck filled with gasoline burst into flames Thursday in a three-vehicle crash on I-95 in southwestern Connecticut, shutting down the East Coast’s main north-south highway and causing major traffic jams. While Lamont said there were no serious injuries in the 5:30 a.m. crash in Norwalk, the crash caused damage to the bridge above.

“The heat from the burning fuel has affected part of the bridge, so that bridge will have to be demolished and demolition will begin first thing tomorrow morning,” Lamont said during a briefing in Hartford Thursday evening.

He said he hopes to reopen the highway Monday morning.

Although the bridge was less than a decade old, “the damage was quite severe due to the amount of gasoline that was in the tanker and ignited directly beneath the bridge structure,” said Garrett Eucalitto, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “The steel started to overheat and warp.”

The tanker was carrying a cargo of about 8,500 gallons (about 32,000 liters) when it crashed under the Fairfield Avenue bridge, officials said. The viaduct did not appear to be in danger, said Scott Hill, chief engineer for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Traffic was backed up for dozens of kilometers during the morning rush hour, and long delays continued in the area until Thursday evening and were expected throughout the weekend. Slow-moving detours were put in place, diverting traffic from the highway and around the accident scene. The accident left other highways and secondary roads in a gridlock. The area’s main alternate route, the Merritt Parkway, cannot be used by trucks because the underpasses on that highway are too low.

Text alerts were sent to residents of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, and transportation companies using the section of I-95 were notified to find alternate routes and means of travel, he said. US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was also informed.

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

Crews unloaded approximately 4,000 gallons (about 15,142 liters) of gasoline that was unburned and remained on the tanker. Utilities were also working to replace broken wires.

Environmental crews were cleaning up gasoline and firefighting foam. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the runoff was in a retention pond and did not enter the Norwalk River.

The accident was reminiscent of last year’s fatal crash in Philadelphia along I-95, when a tractor-trailer carrying gasoline lost control and burst into flames, destroying part of the highway.

The accident also occurred just over a year after a similar wreck on I-95 in Connecticut that forced the highway’s closure.

In April 2023, another tanker truck caught fire after colliding with a stationary car on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge between New London and Groton. The driver of the tanker truck was killed. The crash closed the southern side of the bridge for hours, while the northern side was briefly closed. The driver of the car was recently charged with negligent homicide.


Associated Press writer Dave Collins contributed to this report

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