WILTON — A fiery tractor-trailer crash on the Northway Tuesday night left the driver with injuries and backed up traffic for several hours, state police said.
Jason J. Greenfield, 40, of Pine Knot, Kentucky, suffered a possible broken arm and burns to his arm in the crash, which happened near Northway Exit 15 in Wilton, state troopers said.
The crash reduced northbound traffic to a standstill for several hours. All three lanes of the Northway between Exits 14 and 15 were closed for an extended period of time. Northbound traffic was re-routed off the highway at Exit 14 and back on at Exit 15. But traffic flow was slow and even stopped for long periods of time.
Greenfield was taken to Albany Medical Center. His condition was not available Wednesday afternoon.
Trooper Mark J. Cepiel, public information officer for Troop G, said the accident took place as Greenfield drove north near Exit 15 at 5:50 p.m.
“The front tire came off the vehicle, causing him to lose control,” Cepiel said. “He over-corrected, exited the roadway, struck the guardrail and bridge overpass (Exit 15 bridge) on the east shoulder.”
Cepiel said the tractor-trailer, hauling six small utility trailers as cargo, then caught fire and slid across three lanes of traffic before coming to a rest in a ditch off the west side of the highway.
Fifty gallons of diesel fuel spilled over the road, and repair crews inspected and fixed damage to the bridge, Cepiel said.
Greenfield was wearing a seat belt; police said he was not ejected from the vehicle.
Cepiel said the resulting traffic jam extended several miles in the northbound lanes.
“I would be comfortable in saying back to (exit) 11,” he said.
Police did not know what Greenfield was transporting at the time of the crash. The tractor-trailer is owned by AA Transport of East Tennessee.
State Department of Transportation officials said the department’s management center posted messages on six electronic “variable message signs” along the Northway between Colonie and Saratoga.
The first message posted on those signs read “Crash Exit 15,” according to Bryan Viggiani, spokesman for the state DOT.
“Later, when we had more details from the crash, it changed from ‘Crash Exit 15’ to ‘Exit 15 Closed, Use Other Routes,'” Viggiani said. “They call them variable signs for a reason; they can vary the message.”
Viggiani also said motorists exiting the Thruway at Exit 24, one of the larger toll plazas, would have seen a sign warning about the accident.
“The signs are out there for motorists to make informed decisions,” he said. “Hopefully, they help. Folks have other news reports, Twitter, Google Alerts — they’re all a part of getting messages out to motorists.”
The Northway signs, Viggiani said, are also located at the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge (the “Twin Bridges,” which connect the towns of Colonie and Halfmoon); between Exits 9 and 10; between Exits 6 and 7; between Exits 4 and 5; and before Exit 1.
Viggiani also said DOT signs on Route 7 and I-90 also were lit with messages regarding the accident.
Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].