Tar spread by tanker trailer leaks over 40 mile stretch of Penn Pike Tuesday night
By Peter Samuel
A leaking valve on a tanker truck is thought to be the cause of a long black mess in the right eastbound lane of the Turnpike on an approximate 40 mile, 64km stretch north of Pittsburgh. The tanker was carrying a wholesale load of driveway sealant from Ohio east Tuesday night. Unbeknownst to the driver the tank behind began spewing the tarry liquid from about Mile Post 10 (MP10) near New Castle PA. It wasn't discovered until the tractor-trailer got to Oakmont Plum Service Plaza near the Allegheny River at about MP50.
Vehicles driving behind the tanker accumulated clingy buildups of sealant on their tires and wheels and in their wheel wells - see picture nearby.
Some, including police and Turnpike service vehicles became undriveable, and had to be towed.
Crews worked through the night
Turnpike crews worked through the night on the goop with winter maintenance equipment. They first spread sand on it, then used snow plows to scrape the worst of it to the shoulder.
Turnpike officials say about 150 vehicles were caught in the mess.
The tanker was operated by Marino Transport Services of Stephensville Maryland and its insurance company Travelers (800 238 6225) is handling damages claims.
OK by morning
By the morning (Wednesday) the roadway was fixed and traffic traveled normally.
Driveway sealant is sold in 5 gallon pails at hardware stores.
It is spread like a thick paint on old asphalt to fill cracks and waterproof the surface prolonging its life.
The base material is either asphalt or coal tar and the product also contains polymers and other additives.
The sealant has volatile components like paint so as to be liquid for spreading, but to harden on contact with air.
On driveways it usually sets up overnight.