I-285 crash: One truck removed, one more to go

An overturned Publix tractor-trailer rests on Ga. 400 on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Combined ShapeCaption
An overturned Publix tractor-trailer rests on Ga. 400 on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Explore» I-285 crash: The latest

It will be Saturday morning before the last piece of wreckage is removed from one of the busiest interchanges in the state. But memories of the traffic nightmare the crash created won’t be gone any time soon.

Two tractor-trailers plunged from I-285 and landed on Ga. 400 shortly before noon Friday, blocking both highways for hours. The crash left one truck upside down in the middle of Ga. 400 for hours. A second truck ended up on its side on an embankment. Debris and wreckage forced officials to close portions of both highways, clogging traffic in all directions. By 4 p.m., all lanes had re-opened, but traffic delays lingered.

It was a mess of epic proportions, even for Atlanta. Yet somehow, no life-threatening injuries were reported. The wreck had the potential to be even worse: the tanker involved was hauling 8,000 gallons of fuel. Instead, this wreck created a big mess, scattering enough debris across the highway lanes to keep crews busy for hours.

Friday afternoon, traffic started moving again. But by then, some commuters had been sitting for hours and tempers flared.

While northbound Ga. 400 traffic was backed up to Lenox Road, southbound traffic stretched all the way to Abernathy Road, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. At the Glenridge Connector exit from Ga. 400, drivers jockeyed to merge off the exit ramp and honked their horns at each other.

“It took me 30 minutes just to get here,” a motorist who did not want to be identified said as he merged into Glenridge.

It was not known late Friday was caused the wreck, which happened about 11:44 a.m. First, a Publix truck landed upside down in the middle of the northbound lanes of Ga. 400. Then, a second truck, a tanker containing 8,000 gallons of fuel, ended up on its side on the embankment leading from I-285 to Ga. 400.

“Sandy Springs Fire Rescue has confirmed that the fuel has been contained, and there is no leak,” Sandy Springs police said in an emailed statement.

Firefighters were able to free both drivers from the truck cabs. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries, police said. A driver in a vehicle traveling under the I-285 overpass at the time of the wreck also had non-life threatening injuries. The drivers’ names were not released.

After Friday’s rush hour ended, the Publix truck was up-righted and removed from the scene. But the tanker remained in place. Crews planned to return Saturday morning to remove the vehicle.

» For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.

— Staff writers Mike Morris and David Wickert contributed to this article.