South Sound News

Semi crashes into barrier in same Tacoma location for 8th time in 6 months

TACOMA, Wash. — All mainline lanes of I-5 were closed in Tacoma at SR 16 after a semi-truck crashed into a Jersey barrier once again Tuesday morning. All lanes in both directions reopened more than four hours later.

PHOTOS: Semi hits barrier in Tacoma, closing I-5

Washington State Patrol says the semi crash was the eighth in that spot since September.

Trooper Johnna Batiste said the semi was traveling south when the driver lost control on the wet highway about 3:30 a.m. The truck hit the barrier and pushed it into the northbound lanes.

Batiste said another driver reported seeing the semi driving at a high rate of speed, but didn't know exactly how fast it was going.

The semi driver was cited for second-degree negligent driving. Batiste said speed, the wet road and inexperience were all factors in the crash. The truck driver who crashed had about 6 months experience.

Dion McNeeley, president of Commercial Driver School, said he is not surprised an inexperienced driver couldn't handle the road with construction, lane shifts, weather and poor visibility.

"If people who drive regular cars could spend one hour in a truck seeing what a driver has to go through..," said McNeeley.

KIRO 7 reporter Ranji Sinha gave McNeeley his wish and rode along with him as he drove a semi through the problem stretch of freeway.

"You feel how the truck is being tossed up and down. When the road is tilted, it will actually toss a heavier loaded truck side to side more than what we're getting," McNeeley explained.

Add heavy wind and lanes that are only as wide as the truck, and it can be tough to keep it on the road, he said.

"You add a curve and it's almost impossible to keep the front of the truck and the back of the trailer in the same lane," McNeeley said as he maneuvered the stretch.

Right before the area of Tuesday morning's crash, lanes shift, and the truck is just feet from the shoulders.

"The Jersey barrier is right on the other side of the white line.  The curve of this road here, trucks will off track and if the truck is still in its lane, that trailer can hit that Jersey barrier," said McNeeley.

McNeeley wondered if eight trucks have had crashes there within six months, how many regular drivers have had mishaps.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash and no one was hurt.

The northbound lanes reopened at 7:45 a.m. and the southbound lanes reopened about 20 minutes later.

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