Local

Highway 225 reopens following tanker accident in La Porte

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tanker accident Crews are flaring off the contents of the tanker; the process is expected to last until around noon

The wreckage of an overturned tanker has finally been cleared from under an overpass in La Porte, where it caused a 24 hour traffic nightmare.

It happened just after 2pm Tuesday on the intersection of Highway 225 and Highway 146. An 18-wheeler carrying a container of liquid propane plunged off the overpass onto the ground some 20 feet below. More than 24 hours later, as of 3:30pm Wednesday, the La Porte Office of Emergency Management tweeted that the wreck is clear and all of the main lanes of both highways are open. Some of the feeder roads may remain closed until 4pm.

Two people were transported via Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Their conditions are unknown.

That accident at Highway 225 near Highway 146 turned into a 24-hour traffic nightmare. Crews had to flare off propane inside the tanker before they can move it.

Flames could be seen shooting into the air as crews burn off the rest of the propane the truck was carrying. The process has been underway for hours, since early this morning. And they may not be finished for several more hours, meaning the traffic nightmare continues.

Since yesterday afternoon, traffic on Highway 225 approaching Highway 146 has been shut down. The highway was closed after a truck carrying liquid propane rolled over the guardrail on the ramp from Highway 146 south to Highway 225 west.

"I was working at Baytown, at the Exxon refinery, trying to get back over this was impossible. Very slow," said driver Russell Noah.

"Non-stop, just as far as you can see, traffic, all the way across town," another driver said.

Two people were taken to the hospital, and HazMat crews called in to dispose of the propane, which has to be burned off, a process that so far has lasted well into the next business day.

"It was all backed up, everybody stopping," said driver Phillip Antonie "Almost got into an accident."

"Hey, it happens. It's Houston. It's life in the fast lane. So things are going to happen," Noah said.

Traffic has been detoured around the accident, using Battleground Road and Spencer Highway. People are getting from place to place, but few of them getting there on time.

"Just saw they had it blocked off, so I got off, came over here," said driver Nick King. "Just a different way to get to work."

"I was over an hour late this morning, but my boss understood. Everybody's late," one driver summed things up.

La Porte Assistant Police Chief Steve Deardorff said, "We've had trucks and other vehicles go off these flyovers before, but it's pretty unusual -- maybe four or five in my tenure here."

Deardorff said after the propane is burned off, the truck will have to be removed and the structural integrity of the road will need to be inspected. An optimistic estimate is the freeway could open between 5 and 6pm, but it could be closed until 8pm -- or even later. Drivers are advised to avoid the area if possible.

GETTING AROUND CLOSURE

For drivers who normally use Highway 225 eastbound at Highway 146, officials are diverting traffic to the feeder at Battleground Road. Take Battleground to Spencer Highway.

THe ramps from Highway 146 to 225 are also closed. Use Spencer Highway westbound to Battleground as your alternate.

We're following this story and will have more on abc13.com and on our free mobile apps as details develop.

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