Truck spills load of glass, clogs I-80 traffic

Rush-hour traffic along Interstate 80 at the U.S. 61 interchange slowed to a crawl for miles Tuesday after about 24,000 pounds of plate glass fell from a semitrailer and shattered, burying about a quarter-mile of roadway in crystal shards.“It looked like Christmas,” Davenport Police Cpl.

Brandon Noonan said.

Davenport Police Capt. David Struckman gave high praise to Davenport firefighters, who grabbed shovels and brooms and worked to clear the roadway, as well as direct drivers into the median to keep a trickle of traffic flowing.

The driver of a Schneider National Inc. truck was nearing the end of the ramp leading from U.S. 61 to westbound I-80 when part of his load of glass fell at 4:13 p.m., Davenport Police officer Gordon Morse said.

Traffic soon backed up for miles, and several ramps along the interstate, including ramps miles away, had to be closed and traffic redirected, he said.

“I imagine he lost about half his load,” Morse said.

The driver, Charles Brown, 27, of Temple, Okla., told him that the other half of his load, 24,000-28,000 pounds of glass, was still on the truck.

Brown picked up the load in DeWitt, most likely at the Guardian Industries glass manufacturing plant, Morse said.

Wes Demmon, technical services manager at Guardian, said he couldn’t confirm that the truck was loaded with Guardian glass or where it was going, but he saw newscasts of the wreckage and said it seemed likely that it came from the DeWitt plant.

“We’re a flat glass producer for home construction and commercial construction,” he said. “We sell glass to people and companies that make the windows.”

Westbound semis, cars and pickup trucks were forced to drive along the median for about 150 yards before it was safe to return to the roadway, Struckman said.

The cleanup effort took about 11/2 hours before the inside westbound lane was open, and another half-hour for the outside lane to open to traffic.

Davenport city street sweepers and an Iowa Department of Transportation plow showed up to help clean off the ramp and roadway. The plow pushed the glass like snow into the ditch. Crews also helped sweep the roadway.

The ramp leading from U.S. 61 to I-80 remained closed for several hours after traffic resumed along the freeway as a private company contacted by Schneider started to clean the thousands of shards of glass out of the median.

600450 Truck spills load of glass, clogs I-80 traffic
Date: 3 July 2003

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