Ramp closed after fiery big rig wreck

September 13, 2010 12:23:25 PM PDT
The fallout from a fiery crash over the weekend will impact commuters all this week on the northeast side of town That's because of a damaged exit ramp at the Eastex Freeway northbound to the North Loop westbound.

The driver of an 18-wheeler took a curve too fast and overturned in northeast Houston early Sunday morning. That tanker truck then caught on fire.

The ramp needs extensive repairs before it can reopen. TxDOT crews were out there on Monday. They'll have to remove the concrete to the first level of steel on the barrier and then refill it.

TxDOT says the repairs could take at least a week. Drivers are encouraged to find alternate routes to avoid the area.

Fireball erupts from crash

The wreck happened around 12:15am Sunday morning on the Eastex Freeway exit ramp to the North Loop. The driver got out of the 18-wheeler in time and called 911. When officers got to the scene, the 18-wheeler was engulfed in flames.

The vehicle, which belongs to Coastal Tankers, was carrying gasoline. The driver of the tanker wasn't hurt, and no other vehicles were involved.

The crash shut down the Eastex Freeway and 610 in both directions for several hours. All main lanes re-opened several hours later, but TxDOT officials are keeping the Highway 59 northbound ramp to the North Loop westbound closed until extensive repairs can be made.

"Our maintenance contractor will have to remove the top overlay of concrete to expose the first level of steel and then re-pour the concrete for almost the entire span," said Raquelle Lewis, TxDOT spokeperson. "We are making a significant effort to get the ramp re-opened by the end of this week. Our contractor is mobilizing and we are securing materials as we speak. Work will progress in an expeditious manner and with good weather we should finish this week."

Right now, TxDOT is estimating repair cost at about $100,000.

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