PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Interstate 5’s southbound lanes have been closed since Wednesday morning near the Halsey-Brownville exit in Linn County following a massive crash on the roadway that killed at least one person, and hours later a jackknifed semi-truck north of the earlier crash near Albany resulted in more lane closures.
Oregon State Police told KOIN 6 News that at least one person was killed in the crash earlier on Wednesday. About 20 semi-trucks and 45 passenger vehicles were reportedly involved in the collision.
The crash spanned more than a mile stretch of I-5 and created a massive gridlock, according to OSP.
Crews worked to unload and move the trucks involved. Multiple vehicles were heavily damaged, according to officials. The cable barrier was dropped temporarily to detour vehicles that were stuck.
Half a dozen semi-trucks were leaking fluid onto the interstate, prompting hazmat and the Department of Environmental Quality to respond.
School buses from Eugene were reportedly being shuttled in to take the 30 to 40 people stranded to a nearby truck stop.
Authorities believe heavy fog in the area led to the crash.
KOIN 6 News spoke to witness Bill Guest who says the gridlock kept him at a standstill for two and a half hours.
“I think in hindsight, all of us should’ve been driving slower on a foggy morning,” Guest said. “It’s a sobering thing to think about all day, to be in the middle of that and that some people are just luckier than others on certain days and we were certainly lucky today.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation expects this to be a long closure and is diverting traffic to Highway 99E. Drivers are urged to use other routes.
By 3:45 p.m., ODOT reported another crash, this time involving a jackknifed semi-truck that temporarily closed southbound lanes of I-5 at U.S. 20 in Albany. One lane has since been opened, but traffic is still being detoured at the Corvallis exit, and officials are warning drivers to delay southbound travel and to take “extreme caution on alternate routes,” which have been described as “very busy.”
At 6:30 p.m., ODOT said, “Southbound I-5 remains closed south of Albany at the OR 34 interchange, milepost 228. Traffic is being detoured to 99E. Southbound traffic can reenter I-5 near Halsey at the OR 228 interchange, milepost 216.”
Northbound traffic remains open, but drivers should still expect delays. Travelers are urged to use caution through the area and keep an eye out for any emergency responders working on the road.