Caltrans: $16.5 million to fix I-5 and 2 Freeway interchange damaged in fiery tanker crash

Smoke billows from a fire Saturday July 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, after a tanker truck flipped, spilled its load of gasoline and caught fire, snarling traffic for miles.
Smoke billows from a fire Saturday July 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, after a tanker truck flipped, spilled its load of gasoline and caught fire, snarling traffic for miles. Steve Karman/AP

Remember that fiery tanker crash last month that resulted in the closing of the tunnel connecting the northbound 2 (Glendale Freeway) to the northbound I-5 (Golden State Freeway)?

Caltrans says it will cost $16.5 million to fix the freeway connector.

Construction is scheduled to start in October and if all goes according to plan, finish by Christmas.

“After several rounds of exhaustive tests, we are confident that our solutions will be quick and cost effective,” said Caltrans Acting District 7 Director Carrie Bowen on the agency's blog. “Emergency projects are always fluid, but we are moving as much red tape as possible to safely open this connector for all motorists.”

The tanker was filled with up to 8,500 gallons of gasoline when it crashed into a guardrail on the morning of July 13th.

The heat from the ensuing fire was so intense that pretty much everything in the tunnel was severely damaged – including the pavement, walls, and support structures.

Thick black smoke could be seen for miles and over 200 firefighters responded to keep the fire from spreading. Here's an eyewitness video:

Who pays?

In at least the short-term, taxpayers are on the hook. Caltrans keeps an emergency fund to pay for these types of repairs. It will also try to get reimbursed by the feds.

Depending on who’s found liable, it could go after the trucking company as well. But that process can take years and recover just a fraction of the overall cost.

For instance, the agency was only able to recover $3 million of the $12 million from a 2007 truck crash in Santa Clarita that forced a partial closure of I-5 for three days.

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