Spill clogs traffic, Caltrans slow to respond

July 11, 2009 12:28:37 AM PDT
Caltrans took hours to respond to a crash in San Rafael Friday, possibly because of the furloughs many state employees are being forced to take.

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It all started around 11 a.m. Friday, when a truck carrying liquid cork spilled the nontoxic liquid onto two lanes of southbound Highway 101, just north of the I-580 interchange.

The spill caused a few minor collisions and injuries, but the bigger issue was cleaning up the spill so the lanes could be reopened.

The California Highway Patrol wanted a crew to respond to the scene as soon as possible, but it took more than four hours for Caltrans to get a crew to the crash site.

Friday was a furlough day, part of an order by Gov. Schwarzenegger to close state offices three days each month to save money during the budget crisis.

"We were advised by our dispatch that there was nobody on duty at Caltrans and that they had to do a callout and at about 12:23 p.m., according to our log, we advised our dispatch to find out where Caltrans was and they said they were still doing callouts and that they would let us know when they would arrive and they arrived around 3 p.m.," CHP spokesperson Mary Viegenbein said. "This is very unusual where it took them about four hours to get there."

The spill is expected to be cleared by 7:30 p.m.

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