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CalTrans issues emergency proclomation
for MacArthur Maze partial collapse

By Caitilin McAdoo, Ari Barak

April 29, 2007

Caltrans officials are working with the Federal Highway Administration to try to get federal funding to help pay for repairs to the portion of the MacArthur Maze in Oakland that collapsed early this morning after a tanker truck crashed and exploded, Director of Caltrans Will Kempton said during a news conference today.

Although it's too soon to know how much it will cost to repair the roadway, Kempton said,"It's not going to be cheap."

Caltrans has also issued an emergency proclamation, Kempton said.

The proclamation activates emergency provisions, such as special purchasing and contracting powers, and is a prerequisite for requesting a proclamation of a state of emergency from the governor's office, according to the state Office of Emergency Services.

About 250 yards of the connector ramp from eastbound Interstate Highway 80 to eastbound Interstate Highway 580 collapsed early this morning after a tanker truck carrying 8,600 gallons of gasoline apparently took a curve too quickly on the highway ramp below and crashed.

The tanker had been heading westbound on Interstate Highway 80 to southbound Interstate Highway 880 directly below the I-80 to I-580 ramp when, at 3:42 a.m., the driver, 51-year-old Woodland resident James Mosqueda, lost control of the truck. The truck crashed into a guardrail and overturned, California Highway Patrol Officer Trenton Cross said.

The tanker caught fire, but Mosqueda was able to escape before it exploded into flames. Cross said there was one large explosion followed by several smaller explosions. The fire then burned for some time because of the large amount of fuel.

Heat from the fire, which reached temperatures estimated at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, rose and caused the metal bolts and girders on the highway connector ramp above to melt. The overpass then gave way and collapsed.

Meanwhile, Mosqueda, who suffered second-degree burns to his hands, arms and face, walked off the highway ramp to a nearby gas station, where he stopped a cab and got a ride to a nearby hospital, Cross said.

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Mike Brown said that Mosqueda was expected to recover from his injuries. Nobody else was hurt in the incident and no other cars were involved in the crash.

Caltrans hired a demolition contractor this morning and crews were ready to start removing debris as soon as it was deemed safe. It was not immediately known if they had already begun the demolition this afternoon.

Once the debris is removed, assessment crews will be able to determine the extent of damage to the lower roadway, Kempton said. Both ramps are closed indefinitely, according to Caltrans spokeswoman Lauren Wonder.

"I'm not going to speculate on a time frame," Kempton said.

An estimated 30,000 to 35,000 cars travel on each of the two ramps each day, Kempton said.

Brown said this afternoon that the CHP will be asking for the public's patience on Monday and commuters are being urged to take public transportation to work.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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