Hwy 101 North repaved, partially reopened after fuel spill

Three northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 101 in Redwood City have reopened this morning nearly 16 hours after a fuel tanker overturned and spill an estimated 1,600 gallons of fuel onto the highway, closing all northbound lanes. Crews worked all night to grind and repave the damaged road. 

The Nos. 3,4 and 5 lanes opened at about 5:40 a.m. but the remaining two northbound lanes will be closed all morning, a California Highway Patrol dispatcher said.

The highway closure came after a van collided with a big-rig hauling two gasoline tankers in the northbound lanes near Maple Street at around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, causing the rear tanker to overturn and spill an estimated 1,600 gallons of fuel onto the highway, the CHP said.

Northbound lanes of the highway closed between the Woodside Road and Whipple Avenue exits at about 2 p.m.

Officials also closed a nine-mile stretch of southbound Highway 101 from state Highway 84 to state Highway 92 at about 4 p.m., but all southbound lanes were open by about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The closure wreaked havoc on the Tuesday evening commute, causing gridlock in one of the busiest traffic areas in the Bay Area. One driver reported that the trip from San Francisco to San Mateo took over an hour and a half.

The cleanup process involved many steps, some of them potentially dangerous, and required fire and hazmat crews to be extra careful, said Redwood City fire officials.

Aside from dreadful traffic and the potential for gasoline to ignite, protection of marine life became a concern as cleanup crews scurried to stunt the fuel from reaching pipes that lead to San Francisco Bay. None of the fuel appears to have gone that far, according to officials.

Before hazmat crews could begin pumping out gas and water from drainage ditches along the highway, fire crews needed to upright the overturned tanker and haul it off the road. They could not upright the tanker until it was emptied of all remaining gasoline, Caltrans official Lauren Wonders said. 

No major injuries were reported as a result of the accident, the CHP said.

  Bay City News

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