Produce truck crash might have been caused by rain


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 7:36 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 23 at 9:22 AM

Map: I-10 and Baseline Road

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PHOENIX -- Heavy rain was likely a factor in an early morning wreck that closed the right lanes of eastbound Interstate 10 in the area of Baseline Road for most of the morning. The Baseline Road exit lane was closed, as well.

The driver of a produce truck lost control of his rig and rolled it just after 2 a.m. Thursday. The semi slammed into a concrete divider. It was raining heavily at the time.

The fully loaded truck spilled as much as 150 gallons of diesel fuel, which made the cleanup operation complicated. The rain carried some of the fuel down into a retention basin.

"The crews out here -- the recovery crews -- have the challenge of offloading the produce that is on board the back of that truck," ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel explained. That process was expected to take at least a couple of hours.

"Longer term, we're going to have to deal with, first of all, getting the wreckage on out of here," Nintzel continued. After that, they'll have to do an environmental cleanup because of the fuel spill.

"It's going to be quite the operation out here," he said.

No other vehicles were involved in the wreck and the truck driver is expected to be fine, but the crash created quite a mess for commuters.

The Department of Public Safety has been on the scene all morning. The cleanup operation was expected to run through the morning rush hour.

Traffic coming up from Ahwatukee was backed up as a result of the wreck and subsequent closures.

While all of the I-10 lanes were open by 9 a.m., the Baseline Road exit remained closed. That closure continued to cause some slow-and-go even once the through lanes were opened up.

ADOT hoped to have that Baseline exit, which leads to Arizona Mills Mall and Arizona Grande resort in addition to being a main artery, back open by the evening rush hour.