Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday’s 710 Tanker Fire in Perspective

You probably heard about the tanker fire on I-710 near Washington Avenue on Sunday. At about 9:40 a.m., a tanker carrying about 8,000 gallons of crude oil crashed into the guardrail on the southbound side and burst into flames. Southbound lanes were closed for about 18 hours. 

It’s hard to put a positive spin on an accident like this, but in many respects, this could have been so much worse. Consider:

Reports indicate the driver was seriously injured, but no one died, and no other motorists were seriously injured.

Caltrans engineers dispatched to the scene shortly after the accident undertook a thorough inspection and determined the structural integrity of the bridge wasn’t compromised. 

Caltrans crews worked around the clock and were able to get the freeway open in time for the Monday morning commute.

There will be no long-term impacts on traffic.

It doesn’t always work out this way. A tanker fire on SR-60 in December 2011 resulted in damage so severe, the Paramount Boulevard bridge had to be reconstructed. And a tanker fire this past July in the tunnel connecting southbound SR-2 to southbound I-5 did so much damage, the connector is still closed. So, although accidents are NEVER a good thing, this one wasn’t quite as destructive as other recent tanker fire incidents.

And now, some tanker fire tips for motorists:

Steer clear. If there’s been a tanker fire, chances are very good that traffic is going to be seriously backed up — not just on the affected freeway itself, but in the surrounding area as well. Use an alternate route.

Get news you can use. Consult TV, radio and internet news sources for updates. The Caltrans District 7 Twitter feed (@Caltransdist7) will also have the latest info.

Know before you go. Check the Caltrans QuickMap before you leave (or to find out where the traffic hotspots are and what your best alternates might be. You can also dial 511 to get real-time traffic info.

Breathe deeply. Be patient. If you’re inconvenienced by a tanker fire, try to be patient. We know getting stuck in gridlock is no one’s idea of a good time, but keep in mind that many people are working around the clock to provide aid to the injured and to get the freeway open as quickly as possible. So, keep calm and carry on.