Issaquah traffic snarled after truck overturns at Highlands Drive exit

September 14, 2010

By Laura Geggel

A truck that overturned with a load of steel beams on the Highlands Drive exit of Interstate 90 lies on its side as incident crews, firefighters and police work the scene. By Washington State Patrol

Traffic was snarled in Issaquah for hours after a flatbed tractor-trailer carrying a load of I-beams overturned on Highlands Drive Northeast at Interstate 90’s Exit 18, scattering I-beams across the overpass.

The accident occurred at 5:07 p.m. Sept. 7 in the middle of the afternoon commute.

Police and fire agencies closed the interstate for 40 minutes at Exit 18, causing traffic heading east to back up for about seven miles, to near Exit 11.

Initially, police did not allow drivers onto eastbound I-90 at Front Street North either, causing traffic to back up throughout Issaquah. Police later opened the interstate, but traffic still crawled more than two hours after the accident.

The Sound Delivery Services Inc. driver, 51-year-old Gerard Dumont, was headed to the under-construction Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands, when the tractor-trailer overturned.

Troopers said speed and a wet roadway might have contributed to the incident. In addition, the load of steel I-beams might have been improperly secured, Washington State Patrol spokesman Jason Greer said.

Each I-beam weighs between 800 pounds and 1,500 pounds, depending on its length, Greer said. One of the I-beams went over the barrier and was teetering on the overpass over I-90.

“The only thing keeping it up was a Washington Department of Transportation traffic camera,” Greer said.

EFR worked with the Washington State Patrol, the Issaquah Police Department and the state Department of Transportation, closing I-90 for about a half-hour while a tow truck worked to dislodge the beam stuck over the barricade.

The tractor-trailer also had a diesel fuel leak, and firefighters at the scene poured sand around storm drains to keep the fuel from running into it. A sheen of fuel could be seen on the roadway from the truck all the way down to the bottom of the exit ramp.

EFR called the state Department of Ecology to make sure there were no issues with the fuel leak, especially because it was raining, Battalion Chief Glenn Huffman said.

There were no injuries, he said.

A tow truck flipped the truck, a 1997 Freightliner tractor, back on its wheels and a forklift helped reload the scattered I-beams onto the truck for removal.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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