Three northbound 101 lanes open, long backup

Southbound lanes opened late last night

Southbound lanes on U.S. Highway 101 in Redwood City have reopened after being closed for more than 8 hours following a wreck Tuesday afternoon involving an overturned fuel tanker.

Three of the five northbound lanes were open early Wednesday morning but traffic was heavy and backed up for about a mile, according to the California Highway Patrol and other reports.

A nine-mile stretch of 101 was closed following the wreck in Redwood City. The tanker has been removed from the highway, but crews are still working to clean up the spill, the CHP reported.

Local streets and arterials in Palo Alto and up and down the Peninsula were reported jammed with stand-still traffic during the homebound commute hours.

A van collided with a big-rig hauling two gasoline tankers near Maple Road at around 1:45 p.m., causing the rear tanker to overturn and spill an estimated 1,600 gallons of fuel onto the highway, the CHP said.

Both directions of the highway had been closed between Highway 84 and Highway 92 since 4 p.m. as crews work to clean up the fuel.

CalTrans officials said 101 was closed because gasoline that leaked into drainage ditches along the highway posed an explosive threat to drivers.

The highway closure wreaked havoc on the 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 more than an hour and a half.

The cleanup process has involved many steps, some of them potentially dangerous, and has 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.


Posted by Izzy, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

According to other sources online, 101 North is now open again.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2008 at 9:06 am

Actually, partially open is more accurate, there are still two lanes closed and it sounds as if they will be closed all day for complete resurfacing.

I will need to get to Kaiser, Redwood City later today and 101 would be my normal route, I don't know whether to take El Camino or Middlefield, but won't take 101.

Posted by scout, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 30, 2008 at 10:19 am

I want to know why it took 16 hours to do a 30 minute clean-up. Will someone please lock up the tree huggers an girlie boys and jezebel creeps that insist that going BACKWARDS is forward?

This was a minor incident, yet it was turned into major, due to inept authorities with inexperience and a whole lot of stupidity.

We OVERPAY in taxes, and have done so for the past 100 years. How long are we going to put up with such an INEPT government?

Posted by Peter, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Gee, scout, what got your shorts in such a bunch?

Posted by tc, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Just as long as I don't have to have another hour and a half commute home from Palo Alto to RWC.

Posted by Dan, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Scout, if you're so eager to know, why not pay attention to the news??? There are no tree huggers involved. Fuel eats pavement, simple as that. Turn on your TV or radio, or visit a news website.

About the traffic: I avoided 101 in my travels north earlier today because of all the dire traffic reports. On my return south I saw that it's just not as bad as they make it out to be. The solid traffic was backed up not even 1 mile at noon.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm

But, Dan, would you have liked to have been in that 1 mile back up? I think not. Kudos for you choosing another route.

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm

An explanation for scout: The problem was a lot of gasoline was dropped on the freeway. Gasoline acts as a solvent for oil based products. Asphalt is an oil based product, so I am guessing the roadbed needs extensive repair because the gas dissolved the oil binder in the asphalt.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

How is repair work like this funded? Does the tanker's company get the bill or the minivan's insurance company?

Is this similar to the situation which caused problems with the highway interchange near the Bay Bridge last year?

This must be a costly repair? Obviously there is a slush fund somewhere to pay for this in the short term, but long term?

It is interesting that there are some really bad spots on 85 just south of 101 which really need repaving, but unless there is a tanker gas spill there, we will probably wait eons for this to be repaved.

Posted by Eric Stietzel, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm

The facts about gasoline and asphalt are out there. Some people don't seem to realize that we all are as well off as we are, and most of us are better off by far than princes a few centuries ago, because of the4 taxes our parents paid. Our taxes are the dues we pay for civilization; seems to me, we can see our civilization slipping away because we don't want to pay taxes. Pay less for medical care, and your health will deteriorate. Pay less for social services, and our society will crumble. We are all in this together. Ultimately, we are all going to pay for everything. If we don't, our children will. I suppose there are a few people who don't care about their neighbors or their children, but I suspect we can outvote them. The rest of us can discuss the best ways to deal with the problems, but starving the structures that attend to them is certainly not the way.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 30, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Well said, Eric. You got my vote.

Posted by Dan, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

"But, Dan, would you have liked to have been in that 1 mile back up? I think not. Kudos for you choosing another route."

No kudos to me. I felt like a fool when I took the scenic route north and realized that the backup wasn't as extensive as they described on the traffic reports. I expect the reports to be accurate, and I'll base my route accordingly. I would have been better off to sit in that little bit of traffic (it was LESS than a mile, but I can't say how much less).

Posted by Casey, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2008 at 10:22 am

101 N was surprisingly clear yesterday evening. I think everyone else was avoiding it, except for me.

Posted by iphoner, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:04 pm

too bad none of you had cool iphones to check the freeway status currently when you were leaving for your daily outings like i did. i had no problems with the traffic and no complaints because my lovely little iphone led the way to a traffic free drive.

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:37 pm

I used KGO to know it was a good route, cheaper than an iphone. ;^)

Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2008 at 3:12 pm

KLIV is usually very good and you can call in your own info too.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2008 at 9:56 pm

I biked home from work that day and had no problems with traffic. If scout had used a bike to go from Palo Alto to Redwood City he probably would have gotten there faster, with less trouble, and put less of a burden on our taxpayers.

Why should the oil tanker company have to pay for this? Why not the driver who rear-ended the tanker?

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,907 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 2,081 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,232 views

Sometimes "I'm Sorry" Doesn't Cut It
By Cheryl Bac | 7 comments | 1,177 views

SJSU Center for Steinbeck Studies to Honor Author Khaled Hosseini on Weds Sept 10
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 728 views