Fuel spill causes traffic standstill on SW Freeway

HOUSTON A tanker truck had spilled fuel onto Highway 59, forcing the closure of all of the freeway's northbound lanes between the 610 West Loop and Buffalo Speedway during rush-hour traffic. The last lane was reopened around 9:20pm and traffic along the highway began moving just fine. But for the crews working to clean up the spill and the drivers on the freeway, it was one very long night.

The backup made for an even longer commute. But imagine having car trouble on top of that.

"Very frustrating because I left home an hour earlier, thinking it'll get better, but it happens," one driver said.

Just after 3pm Wednesday, an 18-wheeler spilled about 60 gallons of diesel fuel onto the freeway.

"And all the cars started getting on the shoulder just breezing on through," another driver said. "I tried blocking it most of the time, but they kept honking at me."

Cleanup began with partial closure of the highway, but eventually officials closed all of the lanes, forcing commuters to the feeder. They also diverted travel from the 610 West Loop to prevent a bottleneck in the heart of the city.

"In this case, it happened right approaching rush hour time period," Raquel Lewis with the Texas Department of Transportation said. "The backup from the incident and then you compound that with the rush-hour traffic, it does have a significant domino effect that's right in the core of our system."

The fuel is a hazardous material and must be removed. Combustion and contamination are the biggest concerns for cleanup crews.

However, the concern for most drivers was trying to find an alternative route home.

"We're all frustrated we had to come down and take 610 to get back to 59," a driver said.

"I kinda randomly hit all that traffic standstill for 40 minutes or so, but it happens," another driver said.

Many of the drivers said the spill delayed them by about an hour.

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