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I-75 repairs will take days after deadly wrong-way crash

Published: Monday, May 01, 2017 @ 7:43 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 02, 2017 @ 3:08 PM

Emergency repair work continued I-75 in Dayton on Monday after a fiery fatal crash closed the highway on Sunday, April 30. A wrong-way driver crashed, head-on, with a gasoline tanker that caught fire. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Ty Greenlees
Emergency repair work continued I-75 in Dayton on Monday after a fiery fatal crash closed the highway on Sunday, April 30. A wrong-way driver crashed, head-on, with a gasoline tanker that caught fire. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Police are still trying to reconstruct the events that led to a fiery head-on crash on Interstate 75 on Sunday between a car travelling the wrong way and a tanker full of gasoline.

On Monday, transportation and environmental crews worked to mitigate the fallout from the violent collision. Road repairs will continue through Thursday, officials estimated.

The driver of the car, identified as 30-year-old Andrew Brunsman from Beavercreek, was killed and the truck driver suffered minor injuries in the collision that happened at 4:41 p.m. and sent plumes of black smoke and large balls of flames shooting into the sky just north of downtown for more than an hour.

Once the fire was out, concerns remained about damage that may have been done to the highway and about flaming gasoline that leaked into the storm sewer system.

READ MORE: Latest info on I-75 wrong-way crash and fire

Ohio Department of Transportation cameras captured the collision and subsequent explosion of the tanker.

The video shows a small, light-colored vehicle travelling the wrong way on southbound I-75 as it crosses over the Great Miami River and Riverview Avenue. The car was travelling in the fourth lane from the median. As it went around a curve and passed the southbound entrance ramp from Main Street, it collided with the tanker truck.

It is unclear from the video what lane of travel the collision initially occurred in, but the truck traveled several hundred yards further, with flames and smoke visible, before coming to a stop in the far left lane. The truck driver escaped the wreckage and ran across the highway lanes before the rig exploded.

DETOURS:  How to deal with the morning commute

A representative from Reynolds & Reynolds in Kettering confirmed Monday that Brunsman was an employee there. Greene County court records show that he was married in March of 2016.

Multiple 911 callers reported seeing the car driving the wrong way just before the collision.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and includes a crash reconstruction unit, evaluation of physical evidence and interviews with witnesses. Officers said the full investigation will take several weeks to complete.

Anyone who witnessed the crash and has not yet been in contact with Dayton Police is asked to call Detective Derric McDonald at 937-333-1141.

RELATED: 911 callers warn of wrong-way driver on SB I-75 prior to fiery crash

All but two lanes of the highway were reopened by Monday morning, with traffic shifted to the right.

ODOT officials said there was no structural damage to the highway, and they were working quickly to replace pavement damaged.

“Just the extreme heat from that crash and that fire, that can do a lot of damage even to pavement, and so they have to go in where places are possibly crumbling, and they want to go in and remove that damaged pavement,” said Mandi Dillon, public information officer for ODOT.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Wrong-way crashes in the area

Crews were working on a 300-foot long section of pavement and removing three inches deep. They hoped to have the inside lanes that were most damaged fixed by Tuesday, following by a shift in traffic so they can repair the outside lanes.

“Hopefully by Thursday morning rush hour, their goal is to have all three lanes of southbound open again and then at that time the ramps from Route 4 to southbound and Main Street to southbound would reopen as well,” Dillon said.

RELATED: These detours will help you navigate around SB I-75 closure in Dayton

The inside shoulders, both northbound and southbound, will remain closed for some time until repairs can be made to the concrete barrier. Those repairs will likely be made using nighttime lane closures in the future, Dillon said.

There is no estimate for how much the repairs will cost the state, which finished a complete rebuild of that section of interstate just last year.

VIDEO: Drone flew above crash scene

The Ohio EPA said workers found no continuing danger to the adjacent McPherson Town Historic District, where neighbors the day before had witnessed smoke pouring from storm drains and been told to call 911 if they had fumes in their homes.

“The fire (in the sewer system) was extinguished before the fire department departed the scene yesterday,” Dina Pierce, media coordinator for EPA Southwest District. “The fire department also flushed the storm sewers to push out the gasoline.”

Overnight, an environmental contractor ventilated the storm sewers, and that contractor will continue to do air monitoring for fumes, she said.

The city’s drinking water sources were not affected, Pierce said.

Water levels in the river were high from weekend storms when the crash occurred, so the storm sewers shouldn’t have discharged much.

PHOTOS: Images from the scene and above the scene

“When the river level falls, the contractor will contain and recover any fuel that discharges from the storm sewer outfall,” Pierce said.

The City of Dayton’s Department of Water Division of Environmental Management referred questions about the sewer cleanup to a city spokesperson who did not return requests for comment.

RELATED: Ohio remains third in nation for serious hazmat transportation accidents

The Dayton and Springfield areas have seen other fatal wrong-way crashes on local interstates in recent years, including the state’s deadliest crash of 2016, which happened in February on I-75 northbound, just north of where Sunday’s crash took place.

James Pohlabeln, 61, was intoxicated behind the wheel for the second time in 48 hours on Feb. 13, when he drove the wrong way on I-75 and struck a sports utility vehicle killing four young friends: Kyle Canter, 23, of New Carlisle; Earl Miller II, 27, of New Carlisle; Vashti Nicole Brown, 29, of Dayton; and Devin Bachmann, 26, of Huber Heights.

RELATED: Dayton fatal crash deadliest in Ohio in 2016

Pohlabeln had reportedly threatened suicide before. The crash was one of several in the area in early 2016 involving wrong-way drivers possibly on suicide missions.

Neighbors in the area watched the aftermath of Sunday’s fatal crash from porches and the river levee.

“When I looked out, the smoke was just blazing out and the fire boomed again,” said Michael Wolfe, who watched from his apartment window at the Asbury Apartment building overlooking the highway.

“I said, ‘Lord, what done happened here,’” he said.

“My son and I were sitting on the porch up here and we heard a blast, maybe like a shotgun blast, over that way” said Patrick Jones. “It was behind that wall, but you could feel the heat from it,” he said.

Ohio 3rd in nation for serious hazmat transportation accidents

A Dayton Daily News investigation in 2014 showed accidents involving transportation of some hazardous materials increased dramatically since 2005, and Ohio was third worst in the country for these incidents, like the gasoline tanker crash and explosion that happened on I-75 Sunday.

A new look at the data show’s Ohio still ranks third worst behind only Texas and California.

Truck traffic accounted for four out of five of the serious accidents, according to the United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

There have been 602 incidents deemed serious in Ohio since 1987. The majority — 528 — are highway accidents. And 42 of those serious highway incidents took place since July 1, 2014.

No injuries in crash on Ohio 63, west of Lebanon

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:35 PM

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UPDATE @ 6:36 p.m. 

Ohio 63 has reopened after a single vehicle crash into a ditch.

According to the Ohio State Patrol at Lebanon, drugs and alcohol may have been a factor. No injuries have been reported.

The crash is still under investigation. 

INITIAL REPORT

Ohio 63 is closed between Ohio 741 and McClure Road, west of Lebanon, due to a crash.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is recommending drivers use an alternate route.

MORE: Ohio 63 in Warren County reopens after April crash

Arrow boards or signs will be in place to alert motorists.

There were no reported injuries, according to Warren County officials.

MORE: Ohio 741 bypass part of plans in Warren County 

“To help ensure the safety of the first responders as well as the traveling public, motorists should remain alert, reduce their speed and watch for stopped traffic while passing through the work zone,” according to the ODOT press release.

For more information, call 513- 933-6517 or 513-933-6534.

Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 3:48 PM

The Keowee Street Bridge over the Great Miami River will close in December, as soon as the new Helena Street Bridge is opened, says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. A construction bid of $8.8 million has been awarded to Eagle Construction for a new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge will take place first. The Keowee St. Bridge is the last of the filled arch bridges in Montgomery County and carries about 20,000 cars daily between Harrison Township and the City of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Ty Greenlees
The Keowee Street Bridge over the Great Miami River will close in December, as soon as the new Helena Street Bridge is opened, says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. A construction bid of $8.8 million has been awarded to Eagle Construction for a new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge will take place first. The Keowee St. Bridge is the last of the filled arch bridges in Montgomery County and carries about 20,000 cars daily between Harrison Township and the City of Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Replacement of the Keowee Street bridge over the Great Miami River will stymie traffic between Dayton and Harrison Twp. and impact some area businesses for almost two years beginning within weeks. 

“It’s never a good situation, but it’s one where the bridge needs to be redone,” said Jeff Davis, general manager of J&T Dayton Sandblasting Services that sits in Harrison Twp. on a block of North Dixie Drive that will be closed for months.

“It’s a necessary evil,” he said.

Detours will be in place until at least September 2019 for replacement of the deteriorating, 86-year-old bridge — the final one of its kind found locally, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“It’s the last of the filled-arch bridges in the city of Dayton,” Gruner said. “They were very labor intensive. You really can’t afford to rebuild them like this in the present time.”

MORE: Self-driving vehicles: Are they a threat to Dayton jobs?

In addition to the 20,000 vehicle drivers who cross the bridge daily between Dayton and Harrison Twp., users of the Great Miami River Recreational Trail and paddlers on the river will also be confronted with detours and portages.

The date the Keowee Street bridge will close has been revised to Dec. 18 at the earliest, or until the new Helena Street bridge nearby reopens, according to the county. Detours from the Helena Street bridge — set to open soon — have routed traffic over the Keowee Street bridge during that year-long construction project.

RELATED: Dayton bridge project part of $175M investment

Patrons of Ben’s Batteries in Harrison Twp. will still be able to reach the business, but owner Robert Kucharski said he’s not entirely sure how.

“North Dixie will be closed to through traffic, but you should still be able to get here. That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “If they can’t get here at all, I might as well shut the doors. That’s not going to be good.”

When traffic starts flowing again in late 2019, it will cross a new 550-foot long, pre-stressed concrete I-girder structure, Gruner said.

“It’s not a real fancy bridge, but it will be a nice looking bridge when it’s finished,” he said.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO: 6 times bridges or buildings have been imploded in southwest Ohio

Sidewalks, now six-and-a-half-feet wide, will be widened to 10 feet on the new five-lane bridge. The center pier will feature overlooks on each side of the bridge with girders painted medium blue.

Along with neighboring residents and businesses, Gruner said the department also worked on the design with the region’s rowing community, leading to wider spans that will allow two side-by-side sculls to pass underneath.

The contractor, Eagle Bridge Company in Sidney, is already prepping for demolition and working on the bikeway and river portages, Gruner said.

MORE: Major Kettering road to close in both directions for months

Total construction engineering and construction costs on the project total about $9.3 million, more than 70 percent coming from federal bridge and surface transportation funding. About $1 million was additionally spent on design engineering and right-of-way acquisition, according to the engineer’s office.

In September, the county opened a new $7.3 million bridge on Harshman Road over the Mad River near the entrance to Eastwood MetroPark. After the Keowee Street bridge, the next big Montgomery County bridge project will the the Third Street bridge in Dayton that will span about 700 feet over the Great Miami River with a projected cost of $20 million, Gruner said.

Traffic deaths keep rising in US, but distracted driving fatalities fall

Published: Sunday, October 08, 2017 @ 12:21 PM

Channel 2's Consumer Advisor explains the easy way you can help bring that number down.

WASHINGTON — Traffic fatalities in the U.S. jumped for the second-straight year in 2016 despite a dip in crash deaths linked to distracted driving, according to data released by federal highway safety regulators.

Some 37,461 people died in vehicle collisions in 2016, the highest annual tally since 2007, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures. The 5.6 percent rise in traffic deaths last year came after an 8.4 percent spike in 2015, which was the largest annual increase since the mid-1960s.

Fatalities from distracted drivers, such as those texting, fell 2.2 percent last year, NHTSA reported Friday. Deaths linked to other risky behaviors such as speeding, drunken driving and not wearing seat belts contributed to an overall gain in fatalities, the agency said. Drunken driving was blamed for the most deaths.

The agency “continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year,” it said in a statement. They “may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.”

» Mom’s viral photo of crash aftermath serves as car seat safety reminder

Another increase in the number of miles driven by American motorists last year helps explain some but not all of the increase in crash deaths. Total vehicle miles traveled increased 2.2 percent last year while the fatality rate grew 2.6 percent to 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to the agency. Miles driven gained 2.3 percent in 2015.

Regulators have sounded the alarm about the rising safety risks on the roads and highways, which comes after a downward trend for the last decade. The gains have also fueled interest on Capitol Hill in self-driving vehicles as a way to curb deadly crashes, with lawmakers advancing legislation to speed autonomous vehicle deployment.

NHTSA also found that pedestrian, motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths also rose in 2016. Non-vehicle occupants accounted for nearly a third of all crash fatalities last year, up from roughly 1 in 4 traffic deaths in 2007.

(With assistance from Lisa Du .)

Heavy traffic expected on I-70 west during bridge replacement 

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 10:24 AM

I70w bridge construction

 Indiana will begin work on a bridge replacement for I-70 westbound approximately 3 miles west of the Ohio State line today.

The construction will reduce westbound I-70 to one lane starting today until around September 22. Traffic congestion will back up into Preble County with potentially ten miles of reduced speeds and long delays.  

i70 westbound travelers will experience heavy delays in the next two weeks

A detour has been established that directs traffic north on US-127 to west US-36 and south US 27 back to I-70.   

Map:

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Indiana State Police, Preble County Sheriff’s Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Richmond Police Department all stress the need for patience and safe driving during this project. 

 If you have an alternate route available it may be best to avoid the area. Please allow for extra time if you are traveling on I-70 west from Ohio to Indiana.

 

All agencies remind drivers to plan ahead, follow the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance and wear your seatbelt.