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Excessive speed factor in I-81 tanker crash, state police say

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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.

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