Excessive speed caused the fiery tanker truck crash at an interstate interchange in Harrisburg earlier this year, the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday.
A reconstruction of the accident revealed that the driver, 52-year-old Thomas Uecker of Dover, was traveling at between 48 and 50 miles an hour in an area where the speed limit for tractor-trailers is 40 mph, said Trooper Rob Hicks.
The truck, which was hauling 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel, flipped over and burst into flames May 9 on a ramp from Interstate 81 north to Routes 22/322, just across the Susquehanna River, closing the interstate for several days. The fire's intense heat buckled steel beams and damaged the road so badly officials feared it might collapse on the interstate.
The rehabilitation of the interchange is expected to cost between $12 million and $13 million, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Nearly $12 million of the cost is being paid by the federal government.
Uecker was charged last week with three summary traffic offenses. No telephone number is listed for him and court officials said he did not identify an attorney when he was charged.
The legal developments came on the heels of last month's opening of a new two-lane bridge that carries eastbound traffic onto Route 22. Since the crash, officials had detoured that traffic onto one lane on the westbound bridge, said PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny.
By the end of the year, PennDOT plans to reopen the exit that takes northbound I-81 traffic to Route 322/22 west, Penny said.
I-81, a.k.a the American Legion Memorial Highway, is the longest north-south highway in the state running 234 miles from the Maryland to New York borders spanning eight counties.