Deadly Tractor-Trailer Crash Blocks I-78, Route 309 in Pennsylvania

Both Route 309 and I-78 in Lehigh County were closed after a fiery big rig crash into a bridge support

A deadly, fiery tractor-trailer crash closed a busy Pennsylvania interstate and another major highway for hours Thursday morning.

The big rig crashed into the Route 309 overpass of Interstate 78 eastbound in Upper Saucon Township, just south of Allentown in Lehigh County, around 5 a.m. Thursday. The truck then burst into flames, burning part of the bridge, median and the bridge support.

The truck driver, who hasn't been identified, died after striking the bridge support at mile-marker 60.4, the Lehigh County Coroner's Office said. 

Troopers closed I-78 in both directions at Route 309 and forced traffic off the highway as crews cleared the wreck and engineers checked the structural integrity of the Route 309 overpass.

Some of the vehicles stopped behind the wreck were backed off the highway at one point. By 9 a.m., the drive time on the short stretch of I-78 east ballooned to two hours, according to Waze.

It would take until around 12:40 p.m. to finally reopen all lanes on I-78 in both directions.

Part of Route 309 was also closed around the Exit for I-78 east, according to 511PA. The southbound 309 overpass remained closed as of 12:45 p.m., state police said.

Police warned driver to expect major traffic delays in the area and seek alternate routes. The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) and U.S. Route 22 could get drivers around the scene.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation Thursday. An autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death of the truck driver is planned for Friday, the coroner's office said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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