Video: Spill closes I-39/90 lane for hours

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Dan Plutchak | March 27, 2015

JANESVILLE -- Emergency management officials expect the northbound lane of Interstate 39/90 to remain closed for most of the day as crews clean up a chemical spill that happened last night during a crash.

Police originally were called to the crash site, parallel to Green Valley Drive, just before 2 a.m. Friday, March 27, for a report of a crash involving two semis. Apparently one semi had been disabled and was off to the side of the road when the second semi, carrying the chemicals, sideswiped the first vehicle.

Portions of right side of the semi's trailer was torn off, damaging some barrels inside. It is unknown of the chemicals are hazardous.

Traffic on the northbound lane is being directed to exit at U.S. Highway 11 near Mercy Hospital. The detour goes east a mile to Highway 14, which intersects again with the Interstate on Janesville's north side.

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The Highway 14 detour was clogged with traffic by mid-morning, and officials are urging drivers to stay away. The Rock County Sheriff's office reported that traffic from the Stateline to Wisconsin Highway 26 north of Janesville is at a standstill.

An unrelated crash on the Interstate south of Janesville about 9 a.m. only added to traffic congestion along the stretch.

Officials evacuated several apartment buildings along Green Valley Drive as a precautionary measure and residents were provided shelter at the nearby Ramada Inn on Milton Avenue.

A cleanup crew from Elkhart, Indiana, arrived shortly after 10 a.m., Sgt. Brian Donohoue of the Janesville Police Department told the Gazette.

Fire Chief Jim Jensen said the Indiana team was hired by the company that was transporting the chemicals.

The Gazette also reported that the Madison Fire Department hazardous materials response team was on scene and monitoring the air south of the spill to Marshall Middle School, 24 S. Pontiac Drive, “to make sure everything is OK and that there are not issues or problems,” said Ron Bomkamp, shift commander at the Janesville Fire Department.

Temperatures were around freezing most of the morning, and a Janesville city bus was brought on to the Interstate, presumably to keep hazmat crews warm.

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