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My lovely commute.


Interstate-15 2004 Jul 21, Wed, 20:03:26 (aka 8:03pm for you civilians)


Not a normal view from inside the car. Most of the time, things are flying by at 80 or more. I left work in Temecula about 6pm and made it home to Escondido around midnight; normally a 30 minute commute. This one was a toxic chemical spill: Chromium which was part of a mixture of corrosive acid that ate through a tanker-truck container.  There are still barrels, dumpsters and police tape at the site of the spill today. I drive by it on my way to work.

It's not the first time this stretch of I-15 has been shut down for lengthy periods due to emergencies.

In August 2003, a suicidal 31-year-old man stopped on the freeway just south of Deer Springs Road around 4 p.m., prompting the CHP to close the freeway. The man eventually shot and killed himself. Traffic was backed up for four hours. It was hard not to think of ways that I could have solve the problem much quicker. Funny how violent people can get on the road.

In February 2003, police officers hunting for a fugitive stopped a pair of sport utility vehicles south of Deer Springs Road, backing up traffic for five miles.

A similar tie-up occurred in the same area in August 2000, when Lucias Macias of San Diego refused to emerge from her van and held police at bay for almost two hours.

I was there for all but that last one. And every time, the police did a lousy job of letting anyone know what the problem was, how to get around it, and what the detour path was.

At this one they had a helecopter yelling at people not to drive on the sholder, then we we got up to an officer setting flares, he was yelling at people to turn on their lights and go ahead and use the sholder. The route they expected people to take was 9 or 10 miles out to the east, then the same distance back into Escondido, but no one was telling us that. I went out about 7 miles, said "this can't be right" and turned around looking for another route. After driving all the way back to the I-15, I pulled into a bar and ask directions. "nope, the only way is 9 miles out there and then turn left at Valley Center and drive 9 miles back in"

So why wasn't the helecopter telling us that? He had time to go on about driving on the sholder.

Ah well, time to go drive it again. If I die, I'm sure it will be on that road. Freeways were invented by terrorists, did you know that?
http://www.massmind.org/other/911

---
James.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/20040807-9999-1mi7cleanup.html

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sandiego-sub/doc/669168181.html?MAC=c144d3cc418874f6a5779c5d63a1d47f&did=669168181&FMT=FT

ESCONDIDO -- A chemical spill on Interstate 15 turned yesterday evening's commute into a nightmare -- and it may not be over by this morning.

Traffic was backed up for miles yesterday as the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway in both directions after a cloud of corrosive acid began drifting from an 8,000-gallon tanker truck. Officials evacuated about 10 homes in the area east of where the truck stopped.

Authorities described the chemical mix as a corrosive cocktail of hydrochloric, nitric and hydrofluoric acids with chromic acid mixed in.

"It's the most severe kind of chemical you could be exposed to," said Matt Streck, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "The fumes are toxic to the lungs and could cause a severe reaction, and toxic to the touch."

It also could be toxic to the North County commute this morning.

With hazmat crews needing to clean up the chemicals -- and officers trying to determine just how long and how far the tank had leaked -- the freeway northbound could remain closed until 8 a.m. or later, said CHP Officer Phil Konstantin.

Southbound traffic will be diverted off I-15 at Gopher Canyon Road onto a frontage road and returned to the freeway at Deer Springs Road.

Investigators were questioning the driver, who was identified as Terry Lynn Eshleman, 62, of Bellflower.

Hazmat crews had to pump 3,000 gallons of the toxic acids to a different truck.

Dave Bohorquez, driving north in his 1999 Volkswagen Beetle toward his home in Murrieta, was among the first to see what was happening.

As the tanker truck cut in front of him on the freeway, he said, he saw thick green smoke coming out of it.

Then the acid splashed onto his vehicle as he drove alongside the truck. "The truck was just spewing it out the side, two feet wide," Bohorquez said. "It was weird. Smoke coming out everywhere."

After Eshleman pulled over and stopped, Bohorquez said he asked him what he was hauling. "He said it was just chromium, you could just go home and wash it off," Bohorquez said.

There were no reports of anyone injured or hospitalized after being exposed to the chemicals, but the CHP cleared the freeway for about a half-mile in each direction just in case, Konstantin said.

The spill reduced the inland North County commute to chaos as northbound traffic backed up from Deer Springs Road as far south as the Westfield Shoppingtown North County Fair, a distance of about 15 miles.

The jam-up worsened as some commuters turned around and drove the wrong way on the freeway, trying to get around the blockage. The CHP reported a large number of near head-on collisions -- and an equal number of traffic tickets handed out.

A 7-Eleven in a shopping center near the intersection of Centre City Parkway and Country Club Lane became an unofficial aid station for northbound motorists caught in the mess.

Jim and Kay Roberts of Redlands were studying a map spread out on the hood of their truck, getting guidance from local residents about possible detours.

The advice they got was to pick their way through Valley Center - - a possible 45-minute detour -- and connect with I-15 north of the spill.

"That's the thing that's neat about this. Everybody helps everybody out," Kay Roberts said.

Brian Riggs, a clerk at the 7-Eleven, was serving a flood of motorists who had managed to escape the freeway. "They're mostly asking for directions and stocking up on supplies for the road," Riggs said. He also was advising motorists to go through Valley Center.

Terri Lezcano stopped at the convenience store on her way home to Las Vegas after vacationing in San Diego with her two young children. She decided to pull in at the 7-Eleven to get goodies for them, and a detour for herself.

"They can eat candy and I can concentrate," she said.

Three San Diego police officers who live in Temecula gave up trying to get to work last night. One, whose shift started at 9 p.m., called the watch commander at 10:30 p.m. saying he was abandoning his car on southbound I-15 and walking home, some 15 miles.

Once the freeway closed to the north of him, Tucson trucker Garry Chouinard, hauling a Navy patrol boat to Portland, Ore., figured his only option was to pull off the road and make the best of it.

"I can't go around. I can't go straight. I'm oversized, I'm long, I'm wide, and I'm high," he said of his rig and his cargo. "Might as well turn on my satellite dish, watch some TV and camp out for the night.

"I told them to wake me when it's over."

It's not the first time this stretch of I-15 has been shut down for lengthy periods due to emergencies.

In August 2003, a suicidal 31-year-old man stopped on the freeway just south of Deer Springs Road around 4 p.m., prompting the CHP to close the freeway. The man eventually shot and killed himself. Traffic was backed up for four hours.

In February 2003, police officers hunting for a fugitive stopped a pair of sport utility vehicles south of Deer Springs Road, backing up traffic for five miles.

A similar tie-up occurred in the same area in August 2000, when Lucias Macias of San Diego refused to emerge from her van and held police at bay for almost two hours.

Greg Gross: (619) 293-1889; greg.gross@uniontrib.com

Lisa Petrillo: (760) 737-7563; lisa.petrillo@uniontrib.com

file: /Techref/member/JMN-EFP-786/MyLovelyCommute.htm, 9KB, , updated: 2005/1/3 17:17, local time: 2018/1/18 01:49,
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