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OVERTURNED 18 WHEELER TIES TRAFFIC UP FOR 12-HOURS ON I-69 IN CLEVELAND

At about 11 am Thursday an 18-wheeler tanker owned by Frackmex was northbound on I-69 in the construction zone. Just south of the Washington Drive exit in Cleveland the driver tried stopping due to traffic and swerved to the right going into the ditch. As he did so the truck overturned and broke a utility pole off. The speed limit for the area is posted at 45 mph due to construction, however, very few motorists abide by that. Cleveland Police and fire responded. The driver was transported to the hospital in stable condition. The tanker was leaking an unknown type of chemical. Unknown because there were no required placards on the truck indicating the contents and inside the truck were two different bills of lading, each showing a different type of chemical cargo. On top of that, the driver was not being truthful on what type of product he was carrying. Milstead Hazmat was dispatched to the scene, THey had to call a chemical specialist to determine exactly what was in the truck. Once they learned the chemical which was Triazine. It was almost eight hours before the all-clear could be given to start pumping the truck out so that Smith Heavy Duty Wreckers could right the truck and remove it from the ditch. During this time US 59 changed to I-69 motorists were stuck in traffic with nowhere to go. At times one left lane was able to be used but traffic was backed up to Splendora with the average drive time from Splendora to Cleveland of just over one hour when the left lane was flowing. Just before midnight most of the roadway was cleared as Smith was able to remove the truck. Entergy had to de-energize the power lines as crews worked to clear the scene. I-69 construction has motorists stuck with nowhere to go between Fostoria and Washington in Cleveland. Only two County ROads are accessible that will allow motorists to travel east to FM 1010, however, they are very narrow with many curves. Several vehicles overheated in the traffic jam and lined the little shoulder there is. Liberty County and DPS had to assist a TDCJ van with prisoners that had also overheated and broken down near Fostoria Road.
The I-69 project through Liberty County when complete will be widened to six main lanes with shoulders. One of the largest sections requires an overpass over the San Jacinto River. The estimated cost in 2018 was $107.000,000. But the construction nightmare will last for years as TXDOT brings the highway up to Interstate Highway standards. In March of 2023, another section north of the bypass will be put to bid. The Texas Transportation Commission started designating parts of U.S. Highway 59 to Interstate 69 in the Houston area in 2012. In June 2012, the agency approved the name change for a 35-mile stretch of highway from just north of the Liberty County line south to IH-610 North Loop in Houston.
Crews will be on the scene again on Friday to clear the ground of the chemicals. But traffic should be able to use both lanes.

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