COLUMBIA, Mo. - The sheer size of the tractor-trailer than crashed on Interstate 70 near Highway 63 early Wednesday contributed to the four hours of traffic delays that came afterward.
Columbia Fire Department Assistant Chief Brad Fraizer said the time it takes to clear a crash and get traffic back to normal depends on several circumstances. The primary factors that played into the long delays Wednesday morning were the size of the vehicle involved, the location of the crash, the wet weather and time of day, Fraizer said.
The crash occurred on I-70 westbound near the connector, which is a high-traffic area; it involved a tractor-trailer, which required a larger tow truck to be removed; it was raining heavily; and the crash happened just before the morning commute, which added more traffic to the mix.
Fraizer said authorities were not sure as of Wednesday afternoon what caused the driver to leave the road and crash. The truck's position when it came to a stop, he said, caused both lanes of I-70 westbound to be closed until they could tow at least a portion of the truck out of the way.
Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 452 crashes along I-70 from Cooper County to Montgomery County, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol online crash reports.
Of those 452 crashes reported, wet road conditions played a factor in at least 128 of them.
A total of 147 of those reported crashes involved commercial vehicles. The patrol defines commercial vehicles as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, buses or school buses having occupant capacities of nine or more, including the driver, and vehicles displaying hazardous material placards.
Drivers on local roads often complain about road markings that are hard to see during rain or in the dark.
Missouri Department of Transportation engineers told ABC 17 News that engineers found reflective pavement markers were often getting damaged during snow removal in the winter months.
One year, while snow crews were plowing, a plow scraped over a pavement marker, which flew into the windshield of another vehicle that was traveling nearby, a MoDOT spokeswoman said. Afterward, crews removed all pavement markers.
Engineers said research is being done on improvements to the reflective surface of the paint, especially for wet conditions.