Using the Web to navigate California freeway collapse

In the wake of a tanker truck crash that caused a freeway collapse in the San Francisco Bay Area, Web sites are providing invaluable traffic information to commuters.

In the wake of a tanker truck crash that caused a freeway collapse in the San Francisco Bay Area, Web sites are providing invaluable traffic information to commuters.

The crash occurred at 3:45 a.m. Sunday in Oakland, igniting 8,600 gallons of gasoline on the Interstate 80 interchange and causing a section of the I-580 overpass (Google satellite image) just east of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse onto the I-880 roadway below.

Witnesses reported fireballs reaching more than 200 feet into the air. The truck driver escaped with second-degree burns. There were no reports of fatalities or other injuries.

The Bay Bridge is a major traffic artery in the Bay Area, carrying about 280,000 commuters each day. While the bridge itself was not damaged, the fire is expected to cause major traffic disruptions for weeks or months to come.

An SFGate reader created this overlay showing the crash site. CNET Networks

A 3-minute video shot from a car on the interchange--known locally as the MacArthur Maze--and posted to YouTube shows the fire still burning in the early morning darkness after the freeway section collapsed.

The San Francisco Chronicle posted early staff photos of the damage, and local TV channel KRON-TV viewers also submitted photos of the damage, as well as suggested alternate routes to avoid the damaged interchange.

Commuters looking for the latest information on traffic can check 511.org. The site's information is also available via telephone by dialing 511.

Update: The San Francisco Chronicle Web site SFGate has a blog post with ongoing info on the collapse. It points to a clear overlay map created by reader John Baynham that highlights the damaged section of freeway. Oddly, as of noon on Sunday, Google's map also shows that traffic is flowing under the collapsed section, which can't be right. We don't know how the traffic is measured on that section of freeway, but speculate that either damaged sensors or a flawed algorithm for processing sensor telemetry are to blame. -Rafe Needleman

Update: In response to the anticipated traffic nightmare, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District announced on its Web site that it would be adding trains to specific routes, as well as making all BART travel free of charge on Monday.- Steven Musil

 

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