Westbound I-30 Shut Down Following Fiery Crash

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two lanes will be closed for up to six months for repairs after a fiery crash between a wrong-way driver and a tanker truck. (Published Monday, Mar 28, 2011)

    Two westbound lanes of Interstate 30 in Fort Worth may remain closed for up to six months to repair damage from a deadly crash and explosion early Monday morning.

    Texas Department of Transportation crews worked all day to reopen two left westbound lanes for traffic. The two left lanes at Beach Street reopened late Monday night.

    Intense Heat After Fiery Crash Damages Bridge

    [DFW] Intense Heat After Fiery Crash Damages Bridge
    The fiery crash overnight on I-30 westbound at Sycamore Creek was severely damaged, repairs will take months. (Published Monday, Mar 28, 2011)

    Crews cleared debris, laid hot mix over the damaged concrete deck, restriped the lanes and set 3,500 linear feet of concrete barrier.

    The speed limit through the area will be 45 mph, and the Beach Street on-ramp to westbound I-30 will remain closed until the bridge is completely repaired.

    Tanker Truck Explodes After Collision

    [DFW] Tanker Truck Explodes After Collision
    A wrong-way driver is blamed for a fatal crash that caused a tanker truck to explode early Monday morning. (Published Monday, Mar 28, 2011)

    TxDOT said drivers in the area should be cautious because the lanes are reduced to 11 feet in width with only 2-foot shoulders.

    Driver of Tanker Truck Killed in Fiery Crash

    Crash Causes Huge Headache for Drivers

    [DFW] Crash Causes Huge Headache for Drivers
    Some drivers trying to go west on I-30 said they sat in gridlock for hours, while others ended up in trouble with the law because of it. (Published Monday, Mar 28, 2011)

    Fort Worth police said Louis Nieves, 23, was driving a pickup truck the wrong direction on I-30.

    The truck collided with a tanker truck at about 2:30 a.m., Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Tim Hardeman said.

    How to Avoid Wrong-Way Crashes

    [DFW] How to Avoid Wrong-Way Crashes
    The Texas Department of Public Safety has a few tips to help you improve your chances of staying safe if a wrong-way driver gets on the highway with you. (Published Monday, Mar 28, 2011)

    The tanker exploded, burning the truck nearly to ashes and killing the driver, who was trapped inside the cab.

    The Tarrant County medical examiner's office said late Monday night that the victim will have to be identified through DNA testing, which could take several months.

    Nieves was rushed to a hospital, where he was treated and released and then booked into the Fort Worth jail, police said.

    Fort Worth police said Nieves faces intoxication manslaughter charges.

    Police said they could not determine where exactly he entered the highway going the wrong way but that dispatchers started receiving 911 calls at Cherry and Henderson streets.

    Crews Inspect Bridge for Damage, Creek for Fuel Runoff

    There was some gasoline runoff into the Sycamore Creek below the Beach Street Bridge, the FWFD and TxDOT said.

    Monday afternoon the City of Fort Worth reported that the creek had not been contaminated. Bill Bagley reported city crews had placed barriers in the creek to contain and clean up the spilled gasoline.

    Also, crews are inspecting damage to the I-30 bridge over the creek. TxDOT said the two right lanes of I-30 could be closed for up to six months so that repairs to the bridge can be made. 

    TxDOT said several steel beams will need to be designed, manufactured and replaced, including reconstructing a portion of the bridge's substructure and concrete deck. TxDOT is already preparing an emergency contract to get the work done.

    The agency said the repairs will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. TxDOT said it will pursue Nieves for the repair costs but is prepared to dip into its emergency fund.

    Damaged Bridge Causes Big Traffic Delays, Confusion

    Westbound I-30 remained closed past Monday night's rush hour, tying up traffic in the morning and evening.

    Some morning commuters said they were stuck on the highway Monday morning for an hour or more as they fought to get through the backup that spanned several miles.

    At the westbound entrance ramp at Oakland Boulevard, some drivers Monday morning turned around, going the wrong way until a Fort Worth police officer arrived.

    One driver said he felt he had no other choice but to turn around on the on-ramp and head back the way he came.

    "I was headed that way, there was cars coming to me, so I turned back around because of what happened on the interstate, and I tried to explain to him [a police officer] and he yelled and was like, 'Just give me your drivers license.' I mean, come on," Johnny Ringo said.

    Ringo was one of several stopped and given warnings before police decided to close the ramp.

    NBCDFW's Kim Fischer, Amanda Fitzpatrick, Elvira Sakmari and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.