UPDATE: At 11:30 p.m., Friday, KC Scout confirms hat all lanes have been reopened on I-70.
UPDATE: At 11 p.m., Friday, MoDOT sent the following e-mail:
“MoDOT is in the final stages of cleanup on I-70 at I-435. However, it may be after midnight before I-70 re-opens in both directions. No further update tonight. Check kcscout.net to see whether I-70 has opened during the next hour or so.“
UPDATE: As of 8 p.m., the tanker had been moved and the clean-up process begun. However, at 10 p.m. I-70 still remained closed, despite estimates that it would reopen then. KC Scout pushed back the reopening time to 11 p.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Friday afternoon MoDOT said it hoped to open two eastbound lanes of I-70 by 1 p.m., but it soon became clear to them that time was overly ambitious because of the clean-up involved.
Both lanes of the highway were closed Friday morning near the stadiums after a tanker flipped over and caught fire. Sgt. Bill Mahoney with KCPD says that the interstate is still not safe to be traveled on.
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“We still have chemicals onboard that did not burn off so one of the things is that they’ll (EPA) want to inspect the tanker and make sure that there are no leaks or no threat to the public before we get the thing moving and taken down the road,” Mahoney said.
FOX 4 called MoDOT’s senior community relations specialist Steve Porter and he confirmed the time had changed and that the highway was not likely to be open until dark. He said special equipment is required to remove a substance from the truck, and that equipment will take time to arrive. MoDOT and Sgt. Mahoney said that motorist and first responder’s safety is paramount in this situation.
“Safety is always the first thing in our mind and initially not knowing what’s on board the vehicle and then knowing the chemicals onboard are extremely flammable we just can’t guarantee the safety of any motorists,” Mahoney said.
Both directions of the interstate closed between I-435 to 40 Highway, including the ramps, when the tanker truck burst into flames just before 5 a.m. First-responders found the vehicle in full flames. Sgt. Mahoney said the tanker fire could have ended much worse for the driver.
“Fortunately were able, despite the damage, to get out of the vehicle with minor injuries. At least non-life threatening,” Mahoney said.
The driver told police his load shifted and he lost control. He said he was carrying liquid products. One of them, identified as polyacetate, is flammable. About 7,000 gallons of it remain unburned in the tanker and firefighters were waiting for a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency on how to dispose of it.
No other cars were involved. There was damage to the highway, including the barriers and highway crews will need to address the damage.
Fans planning to go to Friday’s Royals game
Fans planning to attend Friday’s night’s Royals game against the Houston Astros will want to find another route. Friday morning drivers were diverted onto 40 Highway. MoDOT says that I-435 may offer the best access to the Truman Sports Complex. They suggest that fans leave much earlier than they normally would.
- For fans headed eastbound from downtown, recommended alternate routes include Highway 24 (Independence Ave.), Route 78 (23rd St.) or Truman Road.
- For those headed westbound from Blue Springs, Mo., fans may use 23rd St. to I-435 South or Highway 40 to 47th St. and proceed to Raytown Rd.
Fans are encouraged to allow extra time to get to Kauffman Stadium this evening.
Terry and Julie Andrews sent FOX 4 the picture below. They were a few cars behind the accident and said the highway became a wall of fire.