An accident involving three tractor-trailers on the Bay Bridge yesterday morning spilled fuel and hazardous waste on the roadway, causing a 2-mile traffic jam on eastbound U.S. 50 and sending three drivers to the hospital.
Maryland Transportation Authority officials said the incident occurred at 11: 23 a.m. when a tanker truck ran into the back of a flatbed truck as it was slowing down on the bridge. The accident caused a chain reaction when a bread truck then ran into the first two vehicles, puncturing the tanker.
Five gallons of a flammable dry cleaning-type fluid leaked from the tanker and a small amount of diesel spilled out of its fuel tank, transportation authority officials said. None of the hazardous materials spilled into the Chesapeake Bay, officials said.
"The actual contents of the tanker were a variety of different hazardous waste materials, but similar to dry cleaning fluid," said Quentin Banks, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment. "The spill was very minor. The problem was moving the vehicles safely."
The three truck drivers taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center for minor injuries were:
Tanker driver John Cleveland Ellis, 49, of South Carolina.
Flatbed driver Robert Kendall Wood Jr., 24, of Tennessee.
Bread truck driver Vernon Glen Stanley, 61, of Virginia.
With both eastbound lanes closed for 50 minutes, hundreds of motorists spent hours idling in the heat as they waited for the bridge to reopen. The accident also left Gov. Parris N. Glendening and several reporters sitting in traffic and made them 30 minutes late to a news conference on horseshoe crabs in Stevensville.
One lane opened by 12: 30 p.m., but traffic was still crawling when the second lane was opened after the trucks were towed about 3 p.m., said Elana Mezile, a transportation authority spokeswoman. Sometime after 4 p.m., the westbound span started running two-way traffic to ease congestion, she said.
"I was sitting in traffic for well over an hour until my car overheated," said St. Margarets resident Alice Sealing as she waited for her husband to arrive and fix her smoky car on the side of the road. "Then I've been sitting here for another hour watching the traffic go by.
"This bridge is very inconvenient," said Sealing, who owns a boat auction company in Grasonville.
She didn't have much longer to wait. Her husband, Ed Sealing, rolled up minutes later in a 4X4 truck and police escort.
"Oh, thank goodness," she said with a sigh.
No charges were filed against any of the drivers. The accident is under investigation.
Pub Date: 3/31/98