Two trucks crash, causing twice the traffic headaches


For video and more photos from Friday’s truck accident at I-285 and Ga. 400, visit myajc.com.

Another bizarre accident brought metro Atlanta traffic to a standstill Friday – this time shutting down two of the city’s busiest highways for hours.

Two tractor trailers crashed on I-285 eastbound just before noon, toppled off a bridge and landed on Ga. 400 below. One of the trucks carried 8,000 gallons of fuel that, fortunately, did not spill onto the highway, and no one suffered life-threatening injuries. But the accident shut down both highways, snarling traffic for miles.

“I spent two and a half hours driving home from Buckhead to Milton,” Jenny Nover said of a commute that usually takes her 35 minutes. “This is the second-worst commute I’ve ever had. The worst was Snowjam.”

Friday’s accident underscored again just how dependent Atlantans are on highways to get from here to there – and how badly things can go when one or more of them is shut down. In May, a plane crash on I-285 near DeKalb-Peachtree Airport caused another colossal traffic jam on the east side. Last winter, pedestrian fatalities shut down I-285 in Sandy Springs twice.

Throw in last year’s Snowjam – which saw hundreds of stranded commuters abandon their cars on local highways in the midst of a winter storm – and Atlanta may be America’s traffic disaster capital.

The latest mishap began at 11:44 a.m. when both trucks drove off the bridge and landed on the highway below. Police were still investigating the cause of the accident Friday evening.

One of the vehicles – a Publix truck – lay upside down in the middle of the highway. The other – the tanker truck – wound up on its side in the Ga. 400 median. None of the fuel leaked from the truck, according to Sandy Springs Fire Rescue.

Firefighters were able to free both drivers from their trucks. A driver in a car nearby sustained injuries, but they were not life threatening.

Traffic on northbound Ga. 400 backed up to Lenox Road, and southbound traffic stretched all the way to Abernathy Road, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. Eastbound traffic on I-285 was routed onto southbound Ga. 400 as officials checked the structural integrity of the I-285 bridge.

Early in the afternoon, northbound Ga. 400 traffic crawled as drivers were routed onto eastbound I-285. At the Glenridge Connector exit, tempers flared and horns honked as drivers jockeyed to get off the highway.

“It took me 30 minutes just to get here,” one motorists said as he merged onto Glenridge. Another, running late for a medical appointment, said it took her 45 minutes to get there from Buckhead.

By 2:30 p.m., crews were hauling the trucks away. All eastbound lanes on I-285 reopened shortly after 3 p.m. All lanes on Ga. 400 northbound reopened shortly before 4 p.m.

Staff writers Mike Morris and Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.

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