U.S. Highway 550 was closed for more than 24 hours after a truck hauling hazardous material crashed Wednesday night on Molas Pass, south of Silverton.
It was possible the highway would reopen by 11 p.m. Thursday, but authorities were unsure of the timing. The highway was closed from Coal Bank Pass to Silverton as crews cleaned up the spill from the semitrailer that lost control and rolled Wednesday night.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jeffrey Chmielewski said the equipment to clear the road, which was expected to arrive from Salt Lake City around 10 a.m. Thursday, was running late and was expected to arrive around 6 or 7 p.m. Thursday.
Once the equipment arrived, it was expected to take about four hours to clear and reopen the road.
“It could be longer than that,” he said.
The truck crashed about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while heading north on Highway 550 at milepost 69.8, just south of Silverton, according to a news release issued by Colorado State Patrol.
The semitrailer crossed into oncoming traffic in the southbound lane, then went up a small embankment, overturning on its right side. The tank separated and continued to roll.
The semitrailer was hauling a highly flammable liquid that is used in plastics, known as “methyl methacrylate monomer,” CSP said.
Capt. Adrian Driscoll said the tank continued to leak Thursday morning.
CSP said there are no health hazards. The highway remained closed because of flammability concerns.
“Colorado State Patrol Hazardous Materials technicians as well as cleanup and remediation crews are on scene,” the news release said. “Plans are underway for an operation to empty the tank before it can be safely righted and removed.”
The driver, Micah Rodgers, 45, of Pineville, Louisiana, was taken to Montrose Memorial Hospital for evaluation. His injuries were not immediately known. Rodgers was driving for Miller Transporters of Jackson, Mississippi.
On Wednesday night, another incident occurred on U.S. Highway 491, near mile marker 5, south of Cortez, when a semitrailer collided with a pickup truck. That highway was also closed.
The crash involved a fatality. Driscoll said the deceased person was a tribal member and the incident was handed over to tribal police. He was unsure which tribe was investigating the situation.