PITTSBURGH - A flood of gooey black muck dropped from a tanker truck disabled about 150 cars and damaged an unknown number of other vehicles along a nearly 40-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, officials said.
A leaking valve on a tanker spread driveway sealant over the eastbound lanes of a long stretch of the Turnpike between New Castle and the Oakmont Service Plaza on Tuesday night, Turnpike spokesman Bill Capone said.
Turnpike operations officials on Wednesday said 150 or more cars were disabled when the sticky goo covered their tires and wheels. Some state police and turnpike maintenance vehicles had to be towed away after getting stuck in the tar-like substance, according to the turnpike operations center.
Traffic was moving normally by Wednesday morning, but the sticky mess had already hindered the travel plans of some motorists traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Capone told CBS station KDKA-TV that there were no reports of injuries.
Traffic was moving normally by Wednesday morning, but the sticky mess hindered the travel plans of some motorists traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"I have never been so damn scared in with my wife in my life before," Bob King told KDKA-TV. "We had no idea if we were going to get hit with other vehicles." His wife, Anne King, said it felt like the car was on ice.
Cpl. Mike Corna, with the state police barracks which patrols the pike near Pittsburgh, said Wednesday the driver will be cited for not properly securing his load, though the specific tickets to be issued were still being determined. Police have yet to trace the origin of the load. The tank was filled somewhere in Ohio.
Maintenance crews got out quickly, dumping sand on the pooled goop and using snow plows to push it on to the shoulder, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said. The mess was mostly confined to the right lane and the roadway didn't have to be shut down while workers tried to clean it up because the substance hardens in about 15 minutes, DeFebo said.
"It's been cleaned up since about 11 o'clock last night," DeFebo said Wednesday.
But, some drivers thought the hazardous situation should have closed down the road. "This is just unacceptable. They should have just shut the freeway down. I mean, it don't come of easy, nothing. I don't know how I'm going to get to where I'm supposed to go," Kenneth Miller said to KDKA-TV.
Turnpike officials urged motorists whose cars were damaged to stop calling its operations center and instead call Traveler's Insurance at 800-238-6225 and follow the prompts to file "business claims."
The insurance company is handling claims on behalf of Marino Transport Services of Stevensville, Md., which operates the truck.