UPDATE: Southbound lanes I-65 reopen after crash cleanup

Published 12:48 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

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At just after 12:12 p.m. Thursday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) issued a report alerting drivers that southbound lanes of Interstate Highway 65 had reopened, but northbound lanes remained closed for cleanup following a single-vehicle crash Wednesday evening involving an overturned tractor-trailer. 

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

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

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“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 said both north and southbound lanes of I-65 were closed initially. Northbound traffic is diverted at Exit 142 and southbound traffic was diverted at Exit 151 before reopening later Thursday.

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 a tractor-trailer carrying hazardous materials overturned on I-65 near Fort Deposit 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.’”

According to Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rodney Rudolph, the 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.

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

According to Rudolph, 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 – a substance toxic and/or corrosive but non-combustible/water sensitive. 

First responders were taking 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. “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.”

Burkett said Lowndes County EMA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and ALEA Troopers are currently on the scene assisting and will continue to monitor conditions.

For motorists traveling I-65 northbound between Greenville and Montgomery, the Montgomery EMA encourages drivers to exit in Greenville and take Highway 331 or get off at exit 142, the Fort Deposit exit and return to I-65 at exit 151 in Letohatchee.

This article will be updated as new information becomes available.