Inner Loop nightmare: Tanker flops, blocks Legion Bridge traffic into Md.

UPDATE, 3/29/2019, 3 a.m.Lanes have reopened on the Inner Loop on the American Legion Bridge after a tanker-truck overturned Thursday afternoon, closing lanes for hours and snarling traffic all over the D.C. area. 

Earlier: 

Crews are preparing to reopen the roadways on the Inner Loop on the American Legion Bridge, after spending all night Thursday into early Friday clearing the tanker truck that overturned.

They finished clean-up and removed the truck around 2:30 a.m., but the road is still closed to traffic.

The crash snarled traffic all over the D.C. area for hours, as drivers scattered to find alternate routes to get around, caused traffic jams and delays.

At 11:20 p.m., Inner Loop traffic in Virginia was still being diverted to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road), where the worst of the delays are still being felt.

Complicating the situation: The overturned truck is loaded with 8,500 gallons of fuel, requiring a cleanup that will continue into the night. As of 8:45 p.m., about a quarter of the gasoline had been offloaded.

Authorities initially thought cleanup could be done by 10 p.m., but now estimate moving the gasoline to another vehicle won’t be done until midnight.

Once the gasoline is moved to another vehicle, then authorities will upright the tanker. The Virginia Department of Transportation tweeted at 9 p.m. that the closure will last for “many more hours.”

WTOP Traffic reporter Bob Marbourg stressed how tough it is to predict when lanes will reopen.

“There is no way of telling when it will be cleared,” Marbourg said.

A tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel crashed on the American Legion Bridge on Thursday. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation)
A tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel crashed on the American Legion Bridge on Thursday. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation) (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation)
The Inner Loop would be closed for “many more hours,” VDOT tweeted at 9 p.m. (Courtesy VDOT) (Courtesy VDOT)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT) (Courtesy VDOT)
The tanker turned over before 2 p.m. Thursday. (Courtesy NBC Washington)
The tanker turned over before 2 p.m. Thursday. (Courtesy NBC Washington) (Courtesy NBC Washington)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter) (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Virginia State Police are aiding with the clean up. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue via Twitter) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter) (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter) (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter) (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter) (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter) (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter) (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
The Inner Loop blockage affected Foxhall Road in D.C. as well Thursday evening. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
The Inner Loop blockage affected Foxhall Road in D.C. as well Thursday evening. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher) (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
(1/15)
A tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel crashed on the American Legion Bridge on Thursday. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation)
The tanker turned over before 2 p.m. Thursday. (Courtesy NBC Washington)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
Crews clean up the crash site Thursday. (Courtesy VDOT via Twitter)
The Inner Loop blockage affected Foxhall Road in D.C. as well Thursday evening. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Delays and alternative routes

The impact of the closure was felt all over the D.C. area.

Traffic is currently still backed up on the Francis Scott Key Bridge, due to a separate crash, and the 14th Street Bridge.

The most backed up detour is Chain Bridge Road, according to Marbourg.

Your best bet is to avoid the area at all costs.

Until the cleanup is finished, Marbourg said, adjust your expectations, consider your alternatives — and remember that others will be choosing the same alternative as well. Don’t use a GPS or an app like Waze because it will keep rerouting you.

Instead, he said, pick an alternative that you know will get you there.

The crash

The accident occurred around 1:50 p.m., according to Corinne Geller of the Virginia State Police. Another vehicle struck the tanker as it overturned.

No one was injured.

A hazardous-materials crew is handling the cleanup, said Ashley Hildebrandt of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Crews identified three leaks and were able to seal them, Hildebrandt said. Between 100 and 200 gallons actually leaked out, but none of it got into the Potomac River.

VDOT described the cleanup in a tweet as a “multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency coordinated complex incident scene.”

Agencies involved in the cleanup included Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, Virginia State Police, VDOT, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and others.

As of 8 p.m., crews were in the process of transferring gasoline from one tanker to another, according to Hildebrandt.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.


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