A tractor-trailer headed for a highway striping job with a full load of paint overturned on one of Colorado’s biggest interstates, dumping half its load—and the other half when authorities tried to right it.
The spill of about 1,000 pounds of paint—authorities’ best estimate—shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 near Colorado’s western border from about 5 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 26) to about 4:15 a.m. Thursday, said Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ashley Mohr.
The Colorado accident was the fourth of its kind in recent weeks. In August, a rig overturned in New York, spilling 3,700 gallons of paint.
The accident was the fifth highway spill in six weeks, following similar accidents in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Mexico.
The accident occurred when the truck blew a tire on westbound I-70, skidded off the road, ran off the north shoulder of the divided highway into a culvert, and tipped over, spilling part of its paint load, Mohr said.
The rig, owned and operated by a private contractor, was delivering paint to a Colorado DOT highway construction project in Meeker at the time, Mohr said. She did not have the name of the truck owner, and Colorado State Police were unavailable for comment.
After the tractor-trailer tipped, authorities declared a hazardous materials spill, closed the highway, and called tow trucks to right the rig.
DOT maintenance workers began to clean up the paint, aided by the cool overnight air, which coagulated the spill, Mohr said.
Unfortunately, just as the tow trucks hauled the tractor-trailer upright, an axle of the truck broke and the entire rig collapsed again, dumping the rest of its paint.
CDOT crews then began a second round of cleanup. The department will arrange for an environmental company to clean what remains of the paint on the shoulder. That work could take another week.
Fortunately, said Mohr, the spill was contained to the right-of-way and did not flow into any water sources.
“We were actually kind of lucky,” she said.
The same can’t be said for the highway crews waiting for the paint in Meeker.
Said Mohr: “That project is now a little behind, as you can imagine.”