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An overturned 18-wheeler caused the closure of Interstate 10 West less than a mile from the Texas border. The truck, which overturned on Saturday, was carrying a 115,000-pound heat exchanger. (Special to the American Press)<br>

An overturned 18-wheeler caused the closure of Interstate 10 West less than a mile from the Texas border. The truck, which overturned on Saturday, was carrying a 115,000-pound heat exchanger. (Special to the American Press)

Police: Cleanup not ‘a taxpayer burden’

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 10:15 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Authorities had to bring in heavy equipment to match the heavy load that overturned on Interstate 10 West less than a mile from the Texas border over the weekend, a state police spokesman said.

The load, a 115,000-pound heat exchanger, overturned Saturday, but it wasn’t removed until Sunday — after authorities brought in a heavy-duty wrecker and a 600-ton crane, said Sgt. James Anderson.

Costs to clean up displaced loads and chemical spills are borne by the companies that own the trucks involved and aren’t “a taxpayer burden,” he said. The truck in this case belongs to Ace Heavy Haul of Mooresville, N.C., Anderson said.

State police and the Department of Transportation and Development oversaw the operation, he said.

The truck driver, who was wearing a seatbelt, was taken to a local hospital with moderate injuries, Anderson said. Officials don’t believe he was impaired, and the cause of the crash is under investigation, he said.

The wreck rolled off the road, which didn’t appear to be damaged, but authorities had to close I-10 while workers removed the heat exchanger, Anderson said.

“We did it early on a Sunday morning because we wanted to minimize the disruption of traffic,” he said.

Drivers were diverted north on La. 109 and west on La. 12, and traffic was backed up at least four miles, with a couple traffic accidents occurring on La. 109, Anderson said.

Authorities expected the closure to run 12-14 hours, but cleanup was done in eight, he said.

Troopers had not planned to halt eastbound traffic, but were forced to do so for 30-45 minutes because the crane had to swing the heat exchanger over the I-10 East lanes.

Anderson said the last cleanup of this magnitude he remembers involved a truck carrying a 112,000-pound beam that tipped over near the I-210-I-10 junction near Sulphur. A special part had to be brought in from Alabama to pick up the beam, he said.

“Our goal is to clear the scene as quickly as possible and minimize disruption,” Anderson said.

“We frequently get suggestions on how it could have been done better. But we have people with years and years of experience that make decisions based on that experience to cause a minimal amount of inconvenience to the motoring public.”

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