On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation, a conversation with Adam Wayne, a construction engineer in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Metro Region, who is helping coordinate repairs to I-75 in the wake of a massive tanker crash and fire July 12.
The tanker, carrying 13,000 gallons of fuel, crashed into a barrier wall on I-75 in Troy, igniting a fire that closed both sides of the freeway, scorching the highway and median.
Wayne explains the process for evaluating the damage to pavement after an incident of this magnitude and why most freeway lanes will be closed for several days.
He also talks about how fire and extreme heat cause the water in concrete to turn to steam, causing extensive damage in a short amount of time, as illustrated in this 2019 Popular Mechanics story and video. As the surface takes on a soft, chalky consistency, it turns to dust.
The crash occurred on a segment of I-75 that was essentially brand new pavement, part of a major modernization of the freeway across Oakland County.
As police continue the investigation into the cause of the crash, there is a process for recovery from insurance companies for any crash that involves damage to state-owned infrastructure. The protocol calls for MDOT to compile expenses from incident response, cleanup and eventual repair. These expenses are from MDOT and any local or other state agencies that participate.
A bill signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019 amended the Insurance Code to allow access to the full amount of insurance coverage, up to $5 million, for damages to property by vehicles subject to federal insurance requirements. The bill allows the state to recover more money in damages if a motorist is found at fault for infrastructure damages.