UPDATE: Roadway reopens after crash

Published 1:14 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

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The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) announced Thursday afternoon that Interstate Highway 65 has completely reopened after closing for cleanup following a single vehicle crash.

“All lanes have reopened, and the roadway is now clear,” said ALEA Sergeant Jeremy Burkett.

According to Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rodney Rudolph, a Honeywell Trucking tanker overturned in the northbound lanes of I-65 near mile marker 148, in the outskirts of Fort Deposit north of Exit 142.

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“The truck overturned on the outskirts of Fort Deposit at mile marker 148,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph said the overturned tanker had not been breached, but did contain hazardous materials. The truck’s material ranked as a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rating of 1790 which identifies the colorless hydrofluoric acid – a substance toxic and/or corrosive but non-combustible/water sensitive substance. 

According to Michele Sousa, whose husband Troy and son Bradyn serve on the Fort Deposit Fire Department, first responders worked throughout the night at the scene after the tractor-trailer around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday evening.

“They had to wait for multiple agencies to arrive,” Sousa said. “My husband and son received the call [Wednesday night] just as they were getting in bed. They are volunteers. People want to slow down and look, but it’s all about safety. I keep posting [on social media], ‘If you see them, please slow down and pay attention.’”

First responders took every precaution to conduct necessary cleanup at the scene early Thursday morning, Rudolph said. The DOT requires isolating such a crash for a one half mile radius around the site as a precaution.

“The tanker carried an acid-based substance,” Rudolph said. “[The substance] is reactive to the atmosphere but the tank has not been ruptured and we are taking every precaution.”

Rudolph noted the accident scene was located in an area which does not appear to be densely populated. Around 5 a.m. Thursday, cleanup crews were taking precautionary measures to determine whether any nearby residents would require temporary relocation.

“Where we are, it doesn’t seem there are any houses nearby,” Rudolph said Thursday morning. “Luckily [the truck] went down in an area which is not highly populated. It’s mostly a wooded area. We are going through procedures right now to locate any nearby residents.”

Burkette announced the closure of I-65 Thursday around 10 a.m. while crews worked to safely begin cleanup. 

“The right northbound lane of I-65 near the 148-mile marker is closed and will continue to be closed for approximately two hours while the tractor-trailer is prepared to be recovered,” Burkett said Thursday morning.

Burkette noted both north and southbound lanes of I-65 were closed initially. Northbound traffic was diverted at Exit 142 and officers rerouted southbound traffic at Exit 151 before reopening the roadway Thursday afternoon.

At just after 12:12 p.m. Thursday, ALEA issued a report alerting drivers that southbound lanes of I-65 had reopened, but northbound lanes remained closed for cleanup of a Wednesday evening crash scene involving an overturned tractor-trailer. 

“The southbound lanes have reopened; however, the northbound lanes are still closed,” Burkett said.

Burkett said Lowndes County EMA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and ALEA Troopers cooperated on the scene assisting with cleanup.

The cause of the crash remains unknown as officials continue to investigate.