Sen. Casey wants federal probe of I-81 tanker crash - abc27 WHTM

Sen. Casey wants federal probe of I-81 tanker crash

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U.S. Senator Bob Casey is calling for a federal investigation into a fiery fuel tanker crash that damaged two bridges in the Interstate 81 interchange with Route 22/322 near Harrisburg.

In a letter to National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman, Casey wrote Monday that the probe could ensure similar crashes do not occur in the future. He said a full investigation could identify safety issues that may have been a factor in the crash.

"Interstate 81 is a key part of Pennsylvania's economy and it's critical to find all the answers," Casey said. "An investigation by the NTSB could help increase awareness about risks along I-81 and provide more details on how this accident occurred."

The fuel tanker was carrying 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel when it overturned and burst into flames May 9 on the ramp from Interstate 81 northbound to Route 22/322 westbound.

The driver escaped serious injuries, but the fire damaged the ramp and a bridge above it that carries eastbound Route 22 into Harrisburg at the Farm Show Complex. The crash also shut down an 11-mile section of Interstate 81 for five days and caused more than 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the wetlands of Wildwood Park.

The damaged bridges remain closed. Two spans of the Route 22 eastbound bridge were removed because they were in danger of collapsing onto the interstate, and traffic currently is sharing the westbound bridge into and out of Harrisburg.

PennDOT has said demolition of the ramp from I-81 North to Route 22/322 West is expected to begin within days. Wooden shielding was installed under the bridge to protect I-81 traffic from falling debris.

Repairs are expected to take at least three months, but PennDOT has said the I-81 ramp work could take up to six months if it turns out that the bridge's steel beams were damaged by the fire.

The U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced the quick release of $2 million in emergency relief funds to help pay for the work involved in the reopening the interstate.

Governor Tom Corbett has said the crash caused more than $10 million in damage.

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