First Alert Traffic

Mistake From Contractor Leads to Icy Multi-Vehicle Wreck on Route 1

"I do not know why the contractor did not decide to put down salt last night but we have asked them to remedy this.”

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Drivers were urged to avoid getting on the southbound Roosevelt Boulevard Extension in Philadelphia Tuesday morning.
  • At least 15 to 18 vehicles crashed on the highway.
  • A PennDOT spokesperson said a mistake from a contractor caused icy conditions on the road which led to the multi-vehicle crash.

A mistake from a contractor led to ice on the road that ultimately caused a wreck on a busy Philadelphia highway Tuesday morning that involved at least 15 cars and left lanes closed for hours.

The wreck took place in the southbound lanes of the Roosevelt Boulevard Extension (U.S. Route 1) near the Broad Street exit a little after 5 am. Traffic quickly backed up behind the scene.

Between 15 to 18 vehicles were involved in the crash, investigators said. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

Robyn Briggs, a PennDOT spokesperson, told NBC10 a contractor put down concrete on the Wayne Avenue Overpass on Route 1 on Monday but never put salt on it. Whenever concrete is poured, it must be kept wet for a few days. When the temperatures dropped Monday into Tuesday however, the water froze, leading to the icy conditions.

“They poured concrete last night on the Wayne Avenue overpass," Briggs said. "The water seeped. There’s a barrier between the work that they’re doing and then the roadway where motorists are driving. The weather dropped. The contractor did not put salt down last night and we have what unfortunately has occurred.”

All southbound lanes were closed so that crews could move away the cars involved. Those vehicles were later towed.

“We believe at PennDOT, you should always be watching the weather and keeping an eye on things," Briggs said. "I do not know why the contractor did not decide to put down salt last night but we have asked them to remedy this.”

Briggs told NBC10 that the owners of the damaged vehicles can file a claim through the contractor. 

The southbound lanes finally reopened around 8:40 a.m. Drivers in the northbound lanes of Route 1 were forced down to one lane until all those lanes reopened before 8 a.m.

Mornings have turned colder -- as it is now autumn -- with the low dropping to near freezing Tuesday morning. Even when it doesn't rain or snow, slick spots can happen on roadways, especially overpasses and bridges, which freeze first. NBC10 First Alert Weather meteorologist Krystal Klei explains why:

Even with temperatures above freezing, water left on roads like Route 1 in Philadelphia can freeze. Meteorologist Krystal Klei explains the reason it happens.

Be careful no matter where you are driving as temps around the freezing mark could cause slick spots if water was left on the road.

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