Black goo disables hundreds of vehicles on Pennsylvania Turnpike
The black good affected hundreds of cars on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
November 23rd, 2011
10:10 AM ET

Black goo disables hundreds of vehicles on Pennsylvania Turnpike

If you hear about a sticky Thanksgiving travel mess, images of crowded airport security lines and jammed freeway interchanges probably come to mind. Your car sitting on the freeway in a mass of a black goo probably isn't what you think of.

But that's exactly what drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike faced Tuesday night after a tanker truck carrying driveway sealant sprang a leak and spread the goo over a 37-mile stretch of highway.

"This is Thanksgiving. Now we have to turn around and go back home," Laura Frick, who was traveling from Cleveland to New Jersey for the holiday, told CNN affiliate WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. "It's horrible."

The tar-like sealant was spilled in the turnpikes eastbound lanes between the New Castle and Allegheny Valley exits in western Pennsylvania, according to the turnpike's website. The truck's driver noticed the leak when he stopped at the Oakmont travel plaza, according to the WTAE report.

About 200 vehicles were damaged by the sealant, some to the point that they could no longer move, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Some drivers said the numbers were even higher.

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"Our car is disabled, along with about 300 others," Ken Miller, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Our (sport utility vehicle) is wobbling like I'm driving on four flat tires."

"We got on the turnpike and we noticed all these cars pulled over and our car was driving rough, and it was like it was going in to a flat," Lynn Snitzer told WTAE.

"I began hearing something rough hitting under me. I pulled off to the side of the road with about 20 other cars. Everybody thought they had flat tires. Then I reached under my wheel well and saw black stuff all over my hand. It was literally running down the sidewall and puddling on the ground," driver Tom Jungling of Hampton, Pennsylvania, told the Tribune-Review.
Repairs will likely be costly, tow truck driver Tony Armenti told WTAE.

"That tire's gonna have to be replaced. The rim's gonna have to be replaced, and the rest is gonna have to be taken off," he said looking at one vehicle.

The mess was a headache for highway crews, too.

"Initially, they were literally trying to plow this material off the roadway, and they did that to a point, but most recently they've moved to just putting down sand," WTAE quoted turnpike spokesman Bill Capone as saying.

Capone said affected motorists could contact the turnpike commission for help with insurance claims, according to the media reports.

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Filed under: Holidays • Pennsylvania • Thanksgiving • Travel
soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. DB

    This is totally unacceptable. You mean to tell me that the truck spilling this mess had no detection system to alert the driver of a spill? 37 miles? That means the spill had to occur for at least 30 minutes. Imagine if he hadn't stopped..most of the turnpike would have been ruined. We should have the capacity to do better.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Pants

      You watch too much Star Trek.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Boater

      No he doesn't... Technology to detect this would be VERY easy to develop... In fact, maybe my engineering friends and I will do it!

      November 23, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It will be a big ugly lawsuit and a very costly mistake for that company. Probably a $100 part that rusted that they didn't bother to fix that will now cost them millions.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • richp

      I have seen trucks carrying waste oil crack open a valve and start driving in the rain and the snow, mixing it with the water and slush. Ever have your windshield wipers start scraping black stuff off your windshield, that's waste oil someone was paid to get rid of. When I used to commute on Rt78 from pa to nj I carried two bottles of ammonia and sponges to clean it off, it was not a rare occurrence either. Sometimes they get them sometimes not, more so now with the advent of cell phones.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      "Capone said affected motorists could contact the turnpike commission for help with insurance claims, according to the media reports."
      You mean this won't be filed under the trucking company's insurance? What a sham! All repairs should be billed to the trucking company/truck driver that caused the mess IMO.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |

    Well, truck drivers are not known to be the brainiest bunch

    November 23, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. David Williams

    Yea there is a detection system on every truck, side mirrors and other motorist that are following the truck.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      Thank you. I was thinking the same thing.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      That comment right there just shows you how well people pay attention when they are driving, and don't care about what is going on around them. I was born and raised in PA and now live in ND. You would have to be dreaming to think that someone from PA is going to pick up their phone and report the guy is leaking or honk at him to get his attention. Then the fact that these people were driving in it and continued to drive until something "felt" weird. How about how weird the road LOOKS people? Maybe a hint that you should immediately pull over and call someone?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ksig162


    November 23, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    I hope the owner of that truck has some rather good insurance. At 300+ vehicles, or more, that could easy be $300,000 to $900,000.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Jkhn

      When told "please contact the highway comission" for insurance problems, i doubt anyones getting paid. If the guy doesnt notice tar spilling out of his truck, i doubt hes insured

      November 23, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |

    Well the road got recovered anyway

    November 23, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |

    I thought homer worked at a power company.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Ned Flanders

      He sure diddly does neighborino!

      November 23, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. us1776

    Nothing like being glued to the roadway on your way to grandma's house !!

    Pennsylvania, you're pathetic.


    November 23, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • bandgeek1

      Why area you blaming Pennsylvania for the actions of a truck driver who probably wasn't from PA?

      November 23, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      B/c this went on for 37 MILES !!

      People would have been calling 911 or State Police. Why didn't they set up a roadblock?

      They just let this guy keep on driving for 37 miles !!


      November 23, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Ca Ed

      They were just following the law, no texting to cell calls while driving.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • anon

      i'm sure us1776 (stupid name) would have been all over this if he or she was in charge. because we all know us1776 (stupid name) is perfect. he or she is really God. not just a god, but the God. way to go, God (stupid name) for pointing out how dumb a state is, which makes about as much sense as your stupid name. ps - you have a stupid name. you're welcome.

      November 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    Well at least the roads will be sealed for winter!

    November 23, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Yeah, and so will 300 cars.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      haha nice reply!

      November 23, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zach Fleming

    I'm sorry but this cracked me up.
    I know I know, it's somewhat sad as some of the families won't be able to have a decent thanksgiving but still.....
    This is just... hahaha

    November 23, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      Picturing it is pretty amusing. I'm one of those people that doesn't get too worked up about something like this. I chalk it up to $h!t happens and hope it'll make for a good story I can tell my friends. Sometimes you just have to laugh in your exasperation.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • NK

      How pathetic that you can sit there and laugh at other's misfortunes. It's not just the fact that they're missing Thanksgiving but they sustained damage to their cars... some of them could have little kids and they're stranded. Fortunately they didn't lose control of their cars or people could have gotten hurt. Too bad you didn't drive thru that mess... maybe then we'd all have laughed at you.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. joeinalabama

    Look at the bright side, they all got a free undercoat for their car.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. tgr74

    I guess all the people giving the driver a hard time about not knowing he sprang a leak are not realizing 1) it was dark 2)sealant is black and 3) it's been raining in PA for 2 days now. No one is blaming the people that drove into the stuff right in front of them, which I don’t blame either since the 3 points above are true for them also.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      But 37 MILES !!

      I mean 37 MILES !!

      Jeez, I'm sure someone called State Police. Couldn't they have setup a roadblock?

      I mean 37 MILES !!


      November 23, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. PAn8tiv

    wow, and you get to pay a hefty toll for that, too! Thanks, Pennsyltucky!

    November 23, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rick

    US1776: Why is this Pennsylvania's fault? What if the tanker driver and tanker are from your state?

    November 23, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Epidi

    I live in PA – I hope it filled the potholes that are all over the roads. I always know when I return home to PA – the roads s u c k!

    November 23, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
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