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Posted on Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Highway closed: M-14 and southbound US-23 backed up; reopening likely by 8:30 p.m.

By Ben Freed

Earlier Story: M-14 closed at Barton Drive near Ann Arbor; US-23 also affected

Southbound US-23 and Westbound M-14 are both backed up several miles and drivers are advised to avoid the area after a semi-flatbed truck spilled a train car 20-foot shipping container full of benzene dicarboxylic acid on the road this morning.

The most recent update from the Washtenaw County Sherriff’s Department said that the US-23 and M-14 interchange is expected to be closed for the next 5 hours, meaning that M-14 is not expected to open until 8:30 p.m.


Christofer Machniak | MLiveMediaGroup

The road opening will depend on the ability of the relief workers to do their jobs in the extreme heat.

A private HAZMAT contractor is now overseeing the decontamination of Westbound M-14. Two dump trucks of sand have poured 50 to 100 gallons of sand on the spill in an attempt to form a barricade and contain the acid, according to Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police.

The accident occurred at 7:25 a.m. and the highway was closed in both directions after the spill. According to Thompson, the unloading process has begun, but due to the danger of explosion, crews are using extreme caution while loading the semi containers.

“The hazardous liquid will need to be evac(uated) (think of a vacuum cleaner) and the containers off loaded,” Thompson said in an email.

Huron Valley Ambulance transported the driver of the vehicle that spilled the acid to the University of Michigan Hospital shortly after the accident. He was in stable condition. previously reported that a tow company worker was also transported to the hospital. He was treated on the scene and refused transport according to HVA public affairs manager Joyce Williams.

5:52 p.m. update: Michigan State Police have reopened one lane of southbound US-23 to westbound M-14. Westbound M-14 is still closed and traffic is being routed northbound on US-23. Police expect westbound M-14 to be closed for two more hours.

View 2012 Washtenaw County Traffic Reports in a larger map

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

50 - 100 GALLONS of sand?


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

The poorly designed Barton Drive entrance and exit are the most dangerous I can think of. It should be changed significantly, especially extending the merge lane so cars don't have to stop and wait for traffic to clear before heading northbound.

Vince Caruso

Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

It would be great for a followup to determine if the drinking water for AA has been effected. Did the spill get into the 'storm drains' and how much, and did it get into Barton Pond or the River down stream? This is very close to the Barton Pond the source of our drinking water. Thanks for checking into this critical environmental issue. With the RR tracks and 2 highways along the river our drinking water is considered by EPA as very much at risk from these types of spills.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

All lanes of M-14 and US-23 are now open, per Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

Would have been nice to see an update by AA dot com on this.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Is there any idea of how this accident happened? We have the what, where, and when.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

Unfortunately, there isn't any follow-up. Could have been excessive speed, congestion, driver fatigue, etc, any number of things. It would be nice to know the cause of the accident.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.

That's a baaaad thing to spill.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

For some reason, Google Maps traffic shows 23 northbound slower for a longer stretch than 23 south. Has there also been an accident on 23 N?


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

23 N is slow till Territorial as that's the only place people that wanted to take M14 can turn around and head 23 S or take the service drive. 23 N is fine after Territorial.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

At 2:20 pm I was able to travel southbound from Brighton on US23 to westbound M14, exiting on Maple Road with no noticable additional traffic. On eastbound M14 to northbound US23 going to Brighton was extremely slow. I hope all is well at this time and the injured driver recovers.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I have a few comments about the incident and the comments. First, in regards to the train car load the truck dumped. It seems strange, but it might not be that far fetched either. Many trucks on the road carry containers which are carried by train as well. These containers, are intermodal containers that can be shipped view both modes of transportation and ships easily. You don't see as many tanks among those containers, but they are around and do carry hazardous materials at times. Second, 50-100 gallons of sand from 2 dump trucks. I'm not a genius, but I would guess a little bit more than 50-100 gallons of sand would be needed. I could see 50 tons being needed to create a barrier, but not gallons. Third, this is a disaster for the area commute. Luckily not as many people are working as could be today. I feel bad for those who were near the accident. Hopefully police had some way of getting people turned around and off the expressway. I don't want to know how far it is backed up around AA right now.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

I agree with zags. It is not a train car unless the container is on a train. They carry the same containers on boats, so we might just say the semi-truck was carrying a boat full of chemicals.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

Big dumptrucks carry 10 cubic yards of material. Smaller landscape dumptrucks 3-5 cubic yards. 50 gallons of sand would not fill up a kiddie pool. A semi-flatbed carrying a traincar is an innacurate and poor description of the rig. As always, don't believe everything you read.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

More likely yards of sand?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Yikes. I hope none of the spill got into the river.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

The accident was about a mile north of the river and contained to the immediate area of the truck.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Sounds like they may open 2 lanes of south bound 23 soon. Using the shoulder as one.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Does anyone else think it is a little odd that a semi-truck was carrying a loaded train car? Is this standard practice and/or allowed by the DOT? An empty train car is one thing, but I can't imagine why a semi-truck would need to be carrying a FULL train car. Seems like a job better suited for....a train! What a mess.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

Ah, gotcha. I was picturing an entire train car - wheels and all. I have definitely seen those containers before but wouldn't really call them "train cars." Thanks for the clarification.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Well Kyle, why not call it a container then?? We see those all the time.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

The truck was carrying a 20' shipping container used for truck/rail/ship transport. They are one of the most used modes of transporting cargo across long distances (although the 40' variety is more common).


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

Seems a bit risky. But I have never seen one before. I guess it must be allowed.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Sounds like they are calling in water and food for the workers and possibly the stranded motorists. Could not tell for sure. It must be a real mess out there.

Simone Cromer

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

This is absolutely terrible! I'm glad the driver is going to be ok, but the traffic conditions this closure has caused, on a Friday, in 100+ degree temps, is just unimaginable.

Ben Freed

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

@spj According to HVA spokeswoman Joyce Williams, the acid is not highly dangerous. "You don't want to eat it or drink it or roll in it, but it's not that bad," she said. You should have nothing to worry about. Thanks for reading! Ben


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

I drove directly past this accident within minutes -- before the ambulance arrived but after many others had stopped and were rendering assistance. Do I need to be worried about exposure?


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

How can anyone vote against Homeland Conspiracy's reply? Biggest laugh so far this weekend.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

From a quick google search it doesn't look like you need to worry. As far as I can tell, it is highly flammable and an irritant if inhaled in large quantities, but not particularly toxic.

Ben Freed

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

According to HVA spokeswoman Joyce Williams, the acid is not highly dangerous. "You don't want to eat it or drink it or roll in it, but it's not that bad," she said. You should have nothing to worry about. Thanks for reading! Ben

Amanda Zee

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

death is imminent


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

This is major. An accident like this, at this location on Friday is like the perfect storm. I sincerely hope the driver will be alright and the environment won't suffer because of this. A terrible cleanup job for the workers as well in this 100 degree heat.