The crash that shut down several miles of Interstate 80 in Clearfield County on Wednesday is one of the largest ever on the Pennsylvania stretch of road.
The official number of vehicles attributed to the incident is 49, said PennDOT spokeswoman Marla Fannin. Most of those were tractor-trailers, with some smaller passenger vehicles.
Fannin’s records only cover the last 14 years, but in that time, the worst-known incident was a December 2001 collision in Clinton County that involved 72 vehicles. Wednesday’s crash narrowly passed the January 2004 crash between Bellefonte and Milesburg, which involved 44 vehicles. A February 2010 crash, also in Clearfield County, involved 26 vehicles.
The Wednesday crash occurred early in the morning, while road conditions were icy.
“District 2 did have a 45 mph restriction in place for I-80 and I-99, and did advise that motorists not travel if it was not necessary,” Fannin said. “We also advised that those who found it necessary to travel (do) so with extreme caution.”
Clearfield County Emergency Management Director Joe Bigar reported just one serious injury, a truck driver who was cut free from his cab.
Both lanes were closed most of Wednesday between Kylertown and Clearfield. Sections of the right westbound lane was closed for much of Thursday, as Fannin said more vehicles were being towed from the scene. As of 3 p.m., PennDOT was closing the left lane between mile markers 127 and 128 for cleanup, with the right lane reopened for traffic.
A second crash, farther down the road, involved a tanker truck. Cleanup in that area, around the Woodland exit, will continue through the next week. PennDOT said the left lane of I-80 westbound will be closed during daylight hours. The restrictions will not be in effect over the weekend.