Damage to Highway 1 after big-rig crash


The No. 1 lane at Aptos Creek Bridge will be closed between 8 p.m. today and 7 a.m. Saturday for grinding and paving, according to Caltrans. Additional lane closures may be necessary in the next month to repair a damaged guardrail as well.

Pavex Construction, of Watsonville, will conduct the $160,000 repair project.

The big-rig was traveling north when it veered to the side of the highway, possibly because of a blown tire, Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District Division Chief Jeff Terpstra said.

The accident happened on an overpass, and when the big-rig went out of control its diesel tank clipped a concrete abutment, spilling fuel onto the roadway, Terpstra said. A fire started when sparks ignited the diesel.

Fire crews responded and extinguished the blaze, but water from the hoses carried the diesel fuel into the nearby Aptos Creek, he said.

The state Department of Fish and Game was called in, as was personnel from the Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Department and Caltrans.

Some of the soil beneath the overpass was contaminated and Tim Fillmore, hazardous materials program manager for the county health department, said it is "for the most part cleaned up."

Crews have finished the soil removal around the highway, and only a few areas still need to be cleaned. Booms are in the water to prevent any last bits of diesel from flowing through the creek.

Fillmore said his department will continue to take soil samples during the next few days to ensure that all of the fuel is cleaned from the area.

Terpstra said the big-rig was destroyed. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

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