Wyoming Department of Transportation

Tunnel disaster averted on I-80

Date: 12/29/2011 

What could have been a terrible accident was averted today thanks to some talented driving and a quick response from the Wyoming Highway Patrol and Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance crews.

Around 10 a.m. a semi-truck carrying an oversized load stopped directly in front of the westbound tunnel near Green River. After cautiously approaching the tunnel the driver realized his load, a massive dump truck open-box bed, would not fit through the tunnel and stopped. Traffic was halted and the I-80 westbound lane was blocked.
Both trucks, from C&Y Trucking Co., had acquired the correct permits and permissions for oversized loads and were given the vertical and horizontal clearances of the tunnels.
“What happened was nobody took into consideration the arch and taper of the top of the tunnels, so the truck loads, on the bottom half, would have made the clearance. But since the oversized load was square in shape and the same width to the top, the upper half of the load would have clipped the arches on the tunnels. It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole,” Public Relations Specialist Stephanie Harsha said. “It’s nobody’s fault, really.”
The Wyoming Highway Patrol immediately responded with assistance from WYDOT Maintenance crews and the city of Green River police department. Together, they were able to clear vehicles off the I-80 westbound lane and divert traffic through the city of Green River on Flaming Gorge Way. Traffic was redirected through Green River for about two hours.
The stopped truck and his counterpart, a second truck, also carrying a similar oversized load, were then backed down I-80 to exit 91. The trucks then awaited further instruction for rerouting through Green River.
Maintenance crews then verified clearance of stop lights and two additional bridges in order to safely direct the two trucks back to I-80.
Troopers, Green River Police Department officers and WYDOT Maintenance crews, along with both drivers and their pilot car drivers, were able to redirect the two semi-trucks through Green River and have them back on their way by 1 p.m.
“This could have been a lot worse,” Trooper Carla Nichols said. “Thankfully, it’s not."
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