The driver of an oversized truck failed to negotiate a turn at the intersection of U.S. Highways 550/160 on Thursday evening, causing a trailer carrying a massive propane tank to jackknife.
Cmdr. Jacob Dunlop of the Durango Police Department said the accident happened shortly after 5 p.m. during rush hour at the continuous-flow intersection.
Traffic was snarled for about a mile south on South Camino del Rio and was backed up in all directions for almost two hours. Drivers were unable to turn westbound on U.S. Highway 160.
Dunlop said the truck driver was turning left from Camino del Rio to go west on U.S. Highway 160 when he oversteered and made the turn too wide.
“My understanding is, that trailer is so long, the rear dollies steer independently,” he said. “As the truck was making the turn, the back wheels got on the other side of the median.”
The empty 60,000-gallon tank was being transported to a propane facility west of Cortez, said the driver, who did not provide his name.
“I believe there was another truck that negotiated the same turn successfully moments before, but this truck wasn’t able to do it,” Dunlop said.
Northbound traffic was mostly unaffected, although it could not turn west onto U.S. Highway 160.
Southbound traffic on Camino del Rio was rerouted to the right-hand turn lane and then directed across U.S. Highway 160 to rejoin Camino del Rio on the south side of the intersection.
Dunlop said crews cleared the intersection at about 6:50 p.m. after dragging the trailer backward to get the rear wheels on the other side of the median.
“They made sure the dolly was properly secured,” he said. “It took time for traffic to normalize.”
Officers are investigating the driver for careless driving, Dunlop said.
“We are still working with the driver on that, but the intent is to cite him for careless driving,” he said.