"Right after I hit
the Milton exit it was just a standstill," Michael Grubb said.
Grubb couldn't believe his
morning commute from St. Albans to his job in South Burlington Tuesday morning
took two hours longer than the usual 35 minutes.
"It was a
nightmare," he said. "Much, much worse. Horrible."
A chain-reaction crash on
Interstate 89 near exit 15 Monday night was the reason why. The accident sent a
tractor-trailer careening off the bridge over the Winooski River.
"It's a 50-foot drop.
The operator was found alive below by rescue responders," Vt. State Police
Lt. Jim Whitcomb said.
Truck driver Dany
Gauthier, 37, of Sainte Ann de Sabrevois, Quebec, was taken to the hospital in
critical condition. The three other drivers were not seriously hurt.
investigation indicates the weather did play a role in the accident,"
It was raining heavily,
causing water to pool on the road. The Vermont State Police crash
reconstruction team is investigating.
Police say the
chain-reaction crash should act as a reminder to drivers, as these sudden
summer storms are expected all week.
"Motorists need to
slow down," Whitcomb said. "Obviously the visibility starts to go
away with the heavy rains. There can be pooling water on the roads. That can
lead to hydroplaning."
Wind-blown debris can also
cause dangers. Police say slow speeds will help.
The crash Monday night
initially closed the interstate for hours. VTrans opened one lane of the
three-lane road Tuesday as the truck was removed. Crews opened a second lane as
they continued to work on the damaged bridge. Officials replaced 200 feet of
guardrail, but say the bridge itself is safe for drivers. And Tuesday those
drivers got stuck in a traffic nightmare. This is one of the busiest spots in
"It is not easy to
reroute traffic during an emergency situation. They did the best they could
with the situation they had," said Dave Blackmore of VTrans.
VTrans says rerouting
interstate traffic here, including tractor-trailers, could cause dangerous
bottlenecks in smaller towns and cities.
"We have got to be
careful that we are not getting them on streets where they are going to cause
problems or endanger themselves or the traveling public," Blackmore said.
But drivers, like Michael
Grubb, say the state needs a better plan.
"I don't think they
did anything," Grubb said. "I think they ignored the problem and
didn't try to mitigate the issues at all."
VTrans says it will review
the closure to decide if it could have done more to help with the traffic
trouble, and says it will warn drivers through social media, signage and 511
when they're back to do more concrete work. That will happen between 10 a.m.
and 2 p.m.
Police say the tractor-trailer was hauling paper from Quebec to Massachusetts.
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