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Bay Area Truckers

Some details concerning the spectacular freeway meltdown disaster in Oakland.

[First posted on 5/01/07]
On Sunday morning, 4/29/2007, there was a spectacular truck crash in Oakland, at the foot of the Bay Bridge, right in the heart of the Bay Area. A gasoline tanker burned so hot it softened-then-collapsed several massive steel girders.

Below is a link to one local news report. (After more than a year, many other articles are no longer on line.)

San Francisco Chronicle "Meltdown" coverage

As you can see from the linked article, they really raked the injured driver over the coals. One state politico wanted to ban all drivers with a felony record (of any kind and no matter how far in the past) from driving HazMat, if not from getting a CDL at all. (Over the following weeks, that idea reached the Federal level.)

I drive that section of freeway several times a week. The MacArthur Maze, as it's called, it actually a whole series of multilevel interchanges, where several major freeways intersect, and hundreds of thousands of vehicles approach the Bay Bridge.
The Maze is huge. Big as the destruction was, it affected just a tiny portion of the area. Enough to pinch off two key interchanges, and that is plenty bad enough . . .

The crash site is a fairly new roadway, having been built to replace the double deck Cypress Freeway structure that collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. (Around here, projects like that take darn near forever.) Right where the crash happened, it's a tricky elevated area, usually with heavy traffic. There's a gore point on the right, then you exit on the right, with another gore point to your left. You're going uphill, then it levels out. Your two southbound lanes curve left where they pass under a wide eastbound stretch. (That's where the guy tipped over.) Just ahead of there, it climbs again while the lanes curve right, and there's another exit on the right.
No one's sure how fast that truck was going, but at any speed it's an odd section of road. It is a genuine miracle that nobody got killed.

2) [5/11/07] It took less than ten days for CalTrans and a big contractor to reopen the southbound connector. Shows you what can happen when the bureaucrats step back and let the engineers do their thing.
I almost got on local TV, when I was interviewed by Channel Four, while they were at a CHP inspection facility doing a segment on truck safety. They showed the facility, but only used one interview, with the CHP commander. Oh, well . . .

3) [5/25/07] Zowie! C.C. Myers has done it again. In just under one month, the destroyed roadways have been completely repaired. On the evening of 5/24/07, without ceremony, the final section opened to traffic. I'll leave this page up, as a record. (Besides, the traffic advice will be good for the next gazillion years anyway.)

4) [7/14/07] Well what do you know? After all the fuss and blame-gaming, seems the driver may not have been at fault, after all. The CHP now says he was not speeding excessively. All those weird road curves I described (here on this page) played a crucial role. The tank's load sloshed, and overturned the whole rig.

S F Chronicle "Slosh" article

Not only that, a local media investigation found out that stretch of road has several times the average number of vehicle accidents.

5) [August 2007] California will be sending an expert public/private team to Minnesota, to help them expedite repairs on a collapsed interstate freeway river bridge.

A "429 Truth" web site which told folks what "really happened" (wink, wink) on that fateful morning has gone off line. It depicted a massive and totally fake conspiracy.
This is more serious than it might seem, because the way those massive steel freeway-overpass girders softened and failed, up in the open air and in full public view, bears upon "9-11 Truther" conspiracy claims.
Those tragic aviation-fuel World Trade Center blazes were at least as hot, concentrated within enclosed structures, and affected girders which also bore the massive weight of many upper stories. (Both sets of steel girder failed in the same way, and in about the same amount of time, but only an empty freeway deck lay beneath the collapsing Oakland structure.)

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