Route 3 in Billerica will remain shut down in both directions for the “foreseeable future” after a tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel crashed on the highway Wednesday morning, state police said.
Almost 12 hours later, police say crews got the truck righted and tows are working to remove it from the scene. Construction crews are addressing the roadway damage and will continue into the night.
UPDATE #4 - RT3 in Billerica remains closed. Traffic still diverted NB @ Treble Cove Road & SB @ RT129.
Truck righted & tows are working to remove the vehicle from the scene.
Construction crews are on site to address the roadway damage. Efforts will continue into the night.
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) November 16, 2023
Troopers and firefighters responding to a report of a crash on the northbound side of the highway around 10 a.m. found a tanker that had rolled over and spilled fuel just after Exit 76 and shortly before Exit 79, according to Massachusetts State Police.
State police noted that the truck was leaking fuel from the top of its tank and that Hazmat and environmental response crews were also responding to the scene.
“Much of the load of fuel the tanker was carrying has spilled. There is no estimated completion time at this point,” the law enforcement agency said.
State police noted that “multiple vehicles” were involved in the wreck.
Video shared with Boston 25 News showed the moment the tanker rolled over and slid down the highway, ultimately coming to a rest with the cab facing south.
Frank Senesi’s dashcam video showed a white 2022 GMC Sierra merge in front of and make contact with a white 2022 Tesla Model Y SUV. The contact of that crash sent the pickup truck spinning across the highway into the side of the tanker, which was driving in the right travel lane.
The tanker flipped on its side, leading to the fuel spill and eventual closure of the entire highway.
The driver of the tanker and the driver of one of the other vehicles involved suffered minor injuries, state police said.
“The pickup that was involved in that. It didn’t look like he was having a good day. The tanker, it looked like he was actually trying to get out of the way, from the little bit I saw. There wasn’t anything he could’ve done differently,” said Jim Davenport.
Drivers like Davenport were stuck for hours. His GPS arrival time kept increasing.
“So that 8 minutes turned into 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes,” he said.
Eventually, he and others were directed to head south in the northbound lanes. That flooded local roads making it nearly impossible to get anywhere.
“It was pretty bad… it was pretty bad it took about an hour just to get to Lowell,” said Bonilla.
Video shared by Nathalia McGlashing, who was passing by the crash on the opposite of the highway, showed fuel pouring from the tanker and debris scattered in the roadway.
“That’s crazy… crazy and it’s still mindboggling to see it still going on right now,” said Jason Bonilla who lives close by.
The Billerica Police Department said all north and southbound lanes are closed between the Route 129 and Treble Cove Road exits. There is a northbound traffic detour in place at Exit 76 and a southbound detour at Exit 79.
Both ramps from Interstate 495 north and south to Route 3 south are also closed, according to MassDOT.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long the cleanup efforts would take.
Motorists are being urged to avoid the area until further notice.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
LIVE VIDEO: Route 3 in Billerica still closed in both directions following wreck involving fuel tanker.
Posted by Boston 25 News on Wednesday, November 15, 2023
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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