UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 10:28 a.m.)— CHP Officer Anthes reports that all northbound lanes of Interstate 5 are now open.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 9:35 a.m.)— CHP’s Officer Anthes reports that the number 2, 3 and 4 lanes are ESTIMATED to open by 10:30 a.m.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 9:13 a.m.)— CHP Officer Pennington said that a clean-up crew is on its way to the scene of the accident but it is anticipated that 4 more hours may elapse—after noontime— before the scene is cleared and traffic over the northbound lanes of the Grapevine returns to normal. One northbound lane is open, three are blocked. Traffic is backing up toward Lebec. Southbound traffic is not affected.
Officer Richard Anthes said a semi big rig pulling two trailers of batteries and a box truck carrying raw fish collided. That was about 5:30 this morning. “The smell is getting pretty bad,” Officer Anthes said.
Fuel tanks of both trucks ruptured, spewing about 150 gallons of diesel across the road, which triggered the hazmat dispatch—for a firm coming from Long Beach. Anthes agreed it is likely to be after noontime before northbound lanes are cleared.
The big rig tractor that went halfway over the I-5 median barrier is still there, Officer Anthes said.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 8:17 a.m.)—TME Reporter Gary Meyer says the backup is now one mile north of the Lebec overpass (which is near Kern County Fire Station 56).
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 8 a.m.)—Backup of northbound traffic on the Grapevine begins close to El Tejon School, a reporter for The Mountain Enterprise said at 8 a.m. Three northbound lanes on the I-5 are closed due to a jackknifed big rig. One northbound lane is open. The school can be accessed using Lebec Road and the overpass rather than the freeway. The special needs students who travel to Bakersfield in a van have been contacted by ETUSD transportation coordinator Patrice Barnes about a delay until traffic flow returns to normal.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 7:48 a.m.)—El Tejon School is open. Buses and motorists can get to the school using Lebec Road, which leads to the overpass above the Grapevine. There is a two-hour delay however for special needs students who would ordinarily travel in a van to Bakersfield, said El Tejon Unified School District Administrative Assistant Audrey Weingarten. Those children will not be picked up until the Grapevine is reopened and the back-up diminishes. Backup on the I-5, with only one lane open, is expected to continue for hours.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 7:30 a.m.)—Only the slow lane is open at northbound I-5 over the Grapevine. A jackknifed big rig just north of Fort Tejon and El Tejon School will slow northbound Grapevine traffic for about 4 hours, CHP reports.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 7 a.m.)— CHP Officer Rick Anthes confirms that the three northbound lanes on the Grapevine are still closed, with traffic backing up due to the jackknifed big rig just north of Fort Tejon and El Tejon School. A tire fire was reported. CHP estimates that the closure will continue to slow northbound traffic for about four hours. The big rig tractor is hanging over a wall at the edge of the road near the big rig escape ramp.
UPDATE—GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 6:30 a.m.)—Hazmat crews have been mobilized for the response to the three-lane blockage on I-5 northbound near Fort Tejon. The three-lane blockage is expected to continue for about four hours.
GRAPEVINE, LEBEC, CA (Monday, May 14 at 6 a.m.)—Three northbound lanes are blocked north of Lebec on the Interstate 5 just north of Fort Tejon. The fuel tank in a jackknifed big rig ruptured and burst into flame this morning at about 5:30 a.m. Firefighters and California Highway Patrol have responded.
This is part of the May 11, 2018 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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