On Friday, Gov. Tom Corbett issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for the Interstate 81 damage, which state officials said could exceed $10 million.
As part of the proclamation, Corbett ordered $2 million in state funds to be transferred to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, "to be used for disaster-related expenses incurred by various state agencies and departments," according to the proclamation.
State officials said the proclamation allows the state to seek federal disaster funding.
6:45 a.m. Friday update: Here is the latest from PennDOT on the roads open and closed Friday morning because of Thursday's accident:
* Westbound Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange is open. Access to northbound and southbound I-81 from westbound Route 22 is available. In other words, traffic leaving the Harrisburg area by way of westbound Route 22 has access to northbound and southbound I-81 and westbound Route 22/322 toward Dauphin and State College.
* The ramp from northbound Interstate 83 to southbound I-81 was reopened at around 4:45 p.m. Thursday.
* The ramp from northbound I-81 to eastbound Route 22 toward Harrisburg at I-81 Exit 67 is open. This accommodates commuters and other motorists who can access northbound I-81 at Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and Exit 65 (Route 11/15) to continue across the George Wade Memorial Bridge to Exit 67 (Cameron Street).
* The interchanges at I-81 Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and I-81 Exit 65 (Route 11/15) are open to traffic. Northbound motorists can go only as far as Exit 67 for eastbound Route 22 into Harrisburg.
* Southbound I-81 is closed at Exit 70 in Dauphin County, and motorists are detoured by way of southbound Interstate 83 on the Capital Beltway to westbound Route 581 back to southbound I-81 in Cumberland County.
* Northbound I-81 is closed at Exit 59 in Cumberland County, and motorists are detoured by way of eastbound Route 581 on the Capital Beltway to northbound I-83 back to northbound I-81 in Dauphin County.
* An alternative for motorists around the I-81 closure between Exits 59 and 70 is the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76). Tolls will be waived between the Carlisle interchange (Exit 226) and the Harrisburg East interchange just south of Harrisburg (Exit 247).
* The bridge on eastbound Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange has been seriously damaged,and the spans over both northbound and southbound I-81 will be demolished and removed. Prep work started Thursday evening and demolition should start Friday. This work is expected to take a few days to complete before it is safe to allow traffic underneath on I-81. The contractor hired for this assignment is working around-the-clock to remove the bridge to enable PennDOT to reopen I-81 as soon as possible.
* Plans are to build crossovers in the median of Route 22 and make the westbound roadway one lane in each direction. This work will take a few days to accomplish, especially if rain interferes with the placement of stone and asphalt for the crossovers. When this is accomplished, there will be one lane for eastbound Route 22 traffic through the interchange into Harrisburg and one lane for westbound traffic through the interchange heading toward Dauphin.
* The deck on the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 was destroyed and needs to be replaced. Plans are to remove the deck of the bridge span over I-81 over the next few days. It may also be necessary to remove the entire superstructure of the bridge (this includes the beams). Traffic will not be allowed on I-81 under this bridge until this is accomplished.
Previous:A portion of Interstate 81 just outside Harrisburg is expected to remain closed for several days after a tanker filled with diesel fuel overturned and exploded into flames Thursday morning.
Thomas Uecker, 52, of Dover, was driving the rig filled with diesel fuel and escaped with minor injuries. He was treated at an area hospital.
A listed phone number for Uecker is not in service, and he could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
The 6:10 a.m. crash happened on an on-ramp to Route 22-322, where the ramp curls back over the interstate and runs under another section of Route 22-322.
Closed: Flames licked the bottom of the overhead portion and officials said intense heat from the blaze buckled its steel beams and damaged it so badly there were fears it could collapse and fall onto I-81.
Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said the crash damaged a section of Route 22-322 westbound and a ramp to it from I-81. Sections of both highways were closed.
Officials announced plans to tear down the heat-damaged top level, and were working to contain and clean up about 2,000 gallons that spilled into nearby Paxton Creek and the lake at Wildwood Park and Olewine Nature Center, a county park that borders the interstate.
Schoch said he hopes I-81 can reopen early next week after a section of Route 22-322 above it is removed. He also hopes by Monday to convert one of the two unaffected Route 22-322 eastbound lanes into a westbound lane. He says the detour could last a couple of months.
"There really could not have been a worse spot for this to have occurred," he said.
Schoch said the heat from the fire was so intense that it forced water out of concrete as steam, generating explosions. A specialist was helping state officials assess damage to the bridges' steel structures.
Loaded: At the time of the crash, the tanker Uecker was driving was hauling 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel. It was headed northbound from Carlisle.
The tractor-trailer is registered to Tameric Enterprises of Carlisle, state police said.
The fire sent black smoke billowing into the sky, and when firefighter extinguished the blaze, all that remained of the tanker was burnt skeleton and charred pavement.
In light of the closure, motorists are getting a free pass to use the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Harrisburg East Interchange (Exit 247) and the Carlisle Interchange (Exit 226), the turnpike commission announced.
Tolls will be waived for all motorists going between the exits in both directions. However, cash-paying motorists must take a ticket when they enter the highway and must present one when they exit. E-ZPass used must use the E-ZPass lane, said Carl Defebo Jr., spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
The waiver is in effect until I-81 reopens, he said.
Stuck: The toll waiver did little to help those stuck in traffic during the morning commute.
It turned into a traffic nightmare, as drivers scrambled to find alternate routes around a spot where the interstate, river and local geography funnel drivers. I-81 handles about 100,000 vehicles per day in that area, while Route 22-322 gets about 34,000.
At one point, vehicles were backed up for 10 miles on I-81 in both directions, said state police Commissioner Frank Noonan.
Harrisburg Area Community College shut down its nearby campus and rescheduled final exams from Thursday to Tuesday. The state told many of its workers in the Capitol Complex in downtown Harrisburg to leave work two hours early to ease afternoon congestion.
Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Tony Myers spent part of the day Thursday driving to Wilkes-Barre. He left his home in southern York County after the crash, knew of the congestion and took an alternate route.
"Traffic was messed up," Myers said. "It added more than an hour to my travels."
Nonetheless, Myers said he's thankful he wasn't caught in the thick of the congestion on the affected highways.
"What I went through is nothing compared to what the people on 81 and (Interstate) 83 went through," he said.
York Dispatch staff writer Greg Gross contributed to this report.