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Tanker Crash Closes I-81

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A fiery tanker crash shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday, May 9th,  on the ramp from northbound Interstate 81 to westbound Route 22/322 has closed the bridges that carry Route 22/322 over I-81 and also both directions of I-81 that pass underneath those bridges

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State police released their findings Tuesday following a seven-month long investigation into a tanker crash and explosion along Interstate 81 at the 22/322 overpass in Susquehanna Township.

According to the report, Thomas Uecker, 52, of Dover, was driving at an excessive rate of speed when the tanker crashed on May 9.

Police said Uecker was hauling 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel when the tanker hit a guardrail and flipped over on the ramp from northbound I-81 to the westbound lane of Route 22/322. The fire not only destroyed the ramp to the I-81 Exit 67 interchange, but also ruined the overhead bridge that carried eastbound Route 22 toward downtown Harrisburg.

In the days that followed the fiery crash, the eastbound Route 22 bridge was demolished due to extensive damage. PennDOT awarded a $2.1 million dollar contact to High Steel Structures, Inc. of Lancaster to fabricate new steel bridge beams and awarded a $3.3 million G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. of York, to repair the existing piers and abutments and build the new bridge superstructure and bridge deck.

All lanes of Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange north of Harrisburg reopened on Nov. 21.

Uecker has been cited with several traffic violations.

Altogether, the cost of the demolition and rebuilding in the aftermath of the May 9 tanker truck fire ranges between $12 million and $13 million. Federal assistance from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has provided $11.6 million toward the emergency response and repairs.

PennDOT
The new eastbound Route 22 bridge over Interstate 81 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange just north of Harrisburg opened to one lane of traffic today at around 3:20 p.m. This is the bridge that was built over the past several months to replace the one that was destroyed and demolished as the result of a huge tanker truck fire underneath the bridge on May 9. The bridge that carries eastbound Route 22 and the bridge that carries westbound Route 22 over I-81 will each continue to be restricted to one lane of traffic for the next week as construction crews work to remove the median crossovers that were built as part of the emergency response last May and install guiderails. When this work is completed, both eastbound and westbound Route 22 will be restored to two lanes through the interchange and over the bridges.
 
The tanker truck fire on May 9 occurred on the ramp from northbound Interstate 81 to westbound Route 22/322. The fire not only destroyed this ramp in the I-81 Exit 67 interchange, but also ruined the overhead bridge that carried eastbound Route 22 toward downtown Harrisburg, leading to that bridge’s demolition in the immediate days following the fire. Due to the damage to that bridge by the fire, it was necessary to remove it from over I-81 before the interstate could be reopened to traffic in the evening on May 13. The goal then was to rebuild and reopen the eastbound Route 22 bridge in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. To accomplish this, PennDOT awarded a $2.1 million contract to High Steel Structures, Inc. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania to fabricate new steel bridge beams and awarded a $3.3 million contract to G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. of York, Pennsylvania, to repair the existing piers and abutments and build the new bridge superstructure and bridge deck.

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It is nearly six months since the huge tanker truck fire occurred on the ramp from northbound Interstate 81 to westbound Route 22/322 just north of Harrisburg. The fire on May 9 not only destroyed the ramp in the I-81 Exit 67 interchange, but also ruined the overhead bridge that carried eastbound Route 22 toward downtown Harrisburg, leading to that bridge’s demolition in the immediate days following the fire. Due to the damage to that bridge by the fire, it was necessary to remove it from over I-81 before the interstate could be reopened to traffic in the evening on May 13.

For the past six months, repairs have been underway to rebuild the eastbound Route 22 bridge over I-81 and to repair the damaged ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322:

  • The eastbound Route 22 bridge has been rebuilt and is on schedule to be reopened to traffic around mid-November, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. To accomplish this, PennDOT awarded a $2.3 million contract to High Steel Structures, Inc. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania to fabricate new steel bridge beams and awarded a $3.3 million contract to G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. of York, Pennsylvania, to repair the existing piers and abutments and build the new bridge superstructure and bridge deck. The contractor is still working on installing seals in the bridge joints, preparing the deck, and other miscellaneous items before being in a position to open the bridge to traffic.
  • Repairs to the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 should be finished by the end of the year. Repairs to this structure were greater than originally anticipated. Total damage was not fully evident until the partial demolition was completed. This led to additional structural design efforts which included more meticulous steel repairs and reinforcement. In the end, these repairs have taken slightly longer than expected. This work has involved repairs to damaged piers supporting the ramp, repairs to the damaged steel beams, and the complete removal and replacement of the deck of the ramp. This work is being conducted by J.D. Eckman, Inc. of Atglen, Pennsylvania. This is the same company that conducted the demolition of the eastbound Route 22 bridge that made possible the quick response in reopening I-81 to traffic after the tanker truck fire. The contractor last week began pouring concrete for the deck of the ramp. This operation is nearly complete. The concrete for the deck of the ramp needs to cure before the next steps can be undertaken. When the deck is “out of cure”, the parapets (i.e., bridge walls) need to be built and the concrete for the parapets needs to cure before the ramp can be reopened to traffic. Based on what needs to be done and the required curing times, the goal is to reopen the ramp by the end of December.

Altogether, the cost of demolition in the aftermath of the May 9 tanker truck fire, rebuilding the eastbound Route 22 bridge, and rehabilitating the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 will range between $12 million and $13 million.

Weather permitting, motorists are advised that northbound Interstate 81 in the vicinity of the I-81 Exit 67 interchange just north of Harrisburg in Dauphin County will be closed and traffic detoured during the overnight hours tonight between midnight and 5 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27. The traffic stoppage and detour are necessary so that construction crews can safely add cross bracing and tighten bolts on the new bridge beams that were installed over the weekend for the eastbound Route 22 bridge over the northbound side of I-81.

The three lanes of northbound traffic approaching the I-81 Exit 67 interchange will be reduced to two lanes at around 8 p.m. tonight. At 10 p.m., northbound I-81 will be reduced to a single lane. And at around midnight, northbound traffic will be stopped and detoured until no later than 5 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Northbound motorists will be detoured by way of the off-ramp to eastbound Route 22 (Cameron Street), east on Elmerton Avenue, and then north on Progress Avenue back to northbound I-81 at Exit 69.

In addition to this impact to northbound traffic, the southbound ramp to eastbound Route 22 at the I-81 Exit 67 interchange will be closed during this nighttime operation. This is necessary as a safety precaution because this ramp is situated under the area where the tonight’s work will be taking place.

As long as adverse weather doesn’t affect tonight’s operation, tonight should be the last night for closing down I-81 and detouring traffic. However, the ongoing work will continue to affect nighttime traffic on I-81 between now and Thanksgiving because it will be necessary from time to time to restrict traffic to two lanes or a single lane in one or both directions on I-81 during the overnight hours.

Motorists are asked to be alert to this operation and to slow down when approaching the construction work zone.

This work is part of the restoration of the I-81 Exit 67 interchange that was severely damaged by a huge tanker truck fire on May 9, forcing the closure of the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 and the demolition of the eastbound Route 22 bridge over I-81. PennDOT hired G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. of York, Pennsylvania, to rebuild the eastbound Route 22 bridge at a cost of $3.3 million. The new bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by mid-November, in time for Thanksgiving.

 

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Motorists are advised that northbound Interstate 81 in the vicinity of the I-81 Exit 67 interchange just north of Harrisburg in Dauphin County will be closed intermittently during the overnight hours this Saturday and Sunday, between midnight and 5 a.m. The traffic stoppages are necessary so that construction crews can safely set new bridge beams for the eastbound Route 22 bridge over the northbound side of I-81. New beams over the southbound side of I-81 were installed earlier this week.
 
The northbound traffic stoppages will occur on Saturday night, Aug. 24, from midnight to 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, Aug. 25, and also on Sunday night, from midnight until 5 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 26. If it necessary to complete the installation of the bridge beams, northbound I-81 may also be stopped intermittently on Monday night, from midnight to 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, to complete the bridge beam installation.
 
Northbound motorists will have the option to detour around the stoppage by way of the off-ramp to eastbound Route 22 (Cameron Street), Elmerton Avenue, and then north on Progress Avenue back to northbound I-81 at Exit 69.
 
In addition to this impact to northbound traffic, the southbound ramp to eastbound Route 22 at the I-81 Exit 67 interchange will be closed during the nighttime operation. This is necessary as a safety precaution because this ramp is situated under the area where the new beams will be installed.
 
There are a total of 12 bridge beams to be installed – six for each of the two remaining spans on the northbound side of I-81.
 
Motorists are asked to be alert to this operation and to slow down when approaching the construction work zone.

Tanker explosion closes I-81 – InterviewEast Lampeter Township, Lancaster County-

It’s been just over two months since an oil tanker exploded on a ramp from Interstate 81 and destroyed the bridge and snarled traffic for days.

Work is well underway to get the bridge back open.  Much of that work is being done by local contractors.

The sight of flames pouring from this oil tanker on Interstate 81 will forever be burned in the minds of Central Pennsylvania commuters.  Now, there are sounds of progress.

“It’s an emergency project,” said Vice-President of High Steel Structures Steve Bussanmas.

Less than a month after those flames destroyed the eastbound span of the Route 22 bridge over Interstate 81, PennDOT awarded Lancaster County based High Steel Structures with the steel contract to rebuild the bridge.

“We actually provided the steel when it was built originally in the mid 70’s.  We use the original detail drawings that High Steel put together in 1975,” Bussanmas said.

Those drawings saved about six weeks of planning and preparation.  From there forward, the project was put in high gear.

“We are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on this job,” said Bussanmas.

To fabricate 365 tons of steel into 32 different pieces, including two intricate boxes, would normally take high steel between six and eight months.  This job is on pace to be done in less than two.

“It’s critical when we say that we are going to deliver on August 1,that we deliver on August 1,” Bussanmas said.

When the 32 pieces are delivered to the Dauphin County, it will not be the first time they will have been put together.  High Steel assembles all of the pieces, on site and at the same elevation, to make sure they are a perfect match.

“The quicker we get the steel done the better.  We take pride in being able to do those quickly,” Bussanmas said.

And quick is the name of the game when talking about thousands of drivers who use Route 22 and Interstate 81 each day.  If all goes well, PennDOT hopes to have the entire bridge built and reopened by the middle of November.  It’s a goal Bussanmas has all intentions of keeping.

“Everything is moving along fine.  We are schedule to this point.  I feel very certain that we are going to meet our August 1 date,” he said.

PennDOT estimates the final price tag at $12 to $13 million.  The state hopes to recoup at least some of the money from the trucks insurance company.

Lancaster County based High Steel Structures is awarded a PennDOT contract to fabricate 365 tons of structural steel for the emergency replacement of the bridge carrying Route 22 eastbound traffic into Harrisburg at the Interstate 81 exit 67 interchange.

The overpass bridge was severely damaged on Thursday, May 9, when a tanker truck loaded with diesel fuel overturned and caught fire causing massive traffic delays in the Harrisburg metro.

Following inspections, the span of Route 22 Eastbound directly above the fire was determined to be in danger of collapse. Interstate 81 remained closed in the area of the interchange for several days while two spans of the bridge were removed and the debris hauled away.

Fabrication of the replacement girders for the bridge in Harrisburg has commenced, and steel delivery is scheduled for early August.

“High Steel’s sizable technical and production resources enable us to react quickly when emergency projects arise,” said company President Brian LaBorde. “We are pleased to support PennDOT and the project team as they work to get the new bridge in place.”

High Steel has supplied steel for several other emergency projects involving fire-damaged bridges.  In 1998, the company was hired by PennDOT to produce replacement steel girders for the Interstate 95 bridge over Chester Creek, south of Philadelphia. Other projects include the Route 80 Bridge over Den Brook in Morris County, New Jersey, in 2001 and the 9 Mile Road bridge over Interstate 75 in Hazel Park, Michigan, in 2009. All three bridges were damaged as a result of fuel tanker accidents.

Founded in 1931 in Lancaster, High Steel Structures Inc., an affiliate of High Industries Inc., is one of the largest fabricators of structural steel in North America, with more than one million tons of steel fabricated over the past 20 years. High Steel’s 700+ co-workers fabricate a wide range of complex bridge components and heavy building girders, and the company offers bridge steel erection, transportation, and emergency bridge repair services. High Steel has been instrumental in the development of new, innovative processes and materials throughout its long history as an industry leader. The company operates four fabrication facilities in Lancaster and Williamsport. For more information on High Steel, call 717.390.4270 or visit www.highsteel.com.

It`s been three weeks since a tanker fire caused a traffic disaster along 1-81 in Susquehanna Township. Now, PennDOT  is looking at footing the 10 million dollar bill up-front for repairs to both the bridge and an on ramp. On May 9th smoke could be seen for miles when a tanker caring over 7 thousand gallons of diesel fuel flipped over on the ramp from northbound i-81 to westbound route 22/322. The explosion forced the demolition of the eastbound route 22 bridge over the crash site

PennDOT opening bids to repair the bridge and on-ramp on Monday. They received three bids for repair work and estimate it could cost about 10 million dollars.  Something they have to pay for up-front because it could take years to get all of the money back from insurance.

“ Any insurance coverage that we may have, that may not come quickly and it may take years for us to obtain so basically we’re using tax payer money to do the repairs,” says Greg Penny with  PennDOT

For now, many projects will be on hold.

“ There’s plenty of work that needs to be done we just don’t have sufficient funding to get it done,” says Penny

They are estimating the ramp will be open by the end of the summer  while repairs on the bridge could take until November.

Wildwood education and programs are almost ready to resume at Wildwood Park, in Dauphin County.

On May 9th, a tanker explosion off of Interstate 81 caused around 10 acres of the park’s 200 acres to be impacted by a fuel spill.  11 ducklings and goslings didn’t survive being covered in oil.

“Last week it was obvious to see some splotches of oil, today you have to look to find any indication there was a problem,” says Wildwood Park Manager, Chris Revert.

Park officials say you can expect some added park advisories when you plan your next visit.

Carl Dickson is the Dauphin County Parks and Recreation Director.  He says, “The fish will be mostly catch and release and anybody that might have a respiratory problem would want to use caution, just to be on the safe side.”

To help ensure your safety, booms continue to clean up the lake by collecting surface oil.  The booms are then removed and changed on a regular basis.

You can expect to see the booms at the park for around another month.

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