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. anon

    Maybe someday the truckers will get together and park their rigs for a week, then we'll see what they think about us ignorant drivers when there is no gas at the pumps and no food on the shelves

    November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wallie walnut

      lol what?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      yeah, stupid non-truck drivers! who do they think they are driving through our spilled toxic waste?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pizza


      I thought that I was replying to your post. Sorry about hitting the abuse button. Total accident. I apologise.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      Think of how much cleaner the air would be and how less congested the roads would be!

      November 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      truckers have their names on the back of their belts so the cowboys know who they're @#$%ing

      November 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mejazzbo

      There's that Holiday Spirit we've all been talking about.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • passing the time @ work

      you do not make any sense...

      November 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      he's basically saying that the truckers are the reason you have all your nice luxuries/necessities.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol

      id rather get my goods locally anyways, take everyone else in by TRAIN. get you hick, drug addict, aggressive drivers off the road in your giant 50-ton kill mobiles

      November 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wallie walnut

    Hope the driver of the truck feels like crap AND got fired. You just ruined thanksgiving for 300+ people.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • MattBMO

      Really? Thanksgiving is ruined? First of all, how is it the truck driver's fault? Accidents happen! And this one was certainly not the fault of the driver – it was an equipment failure. Second, why is the holiday ruined? If their car is one of those damaged, they could rent a car and drive the rest of the way, then put the cost on their insurance claim. Or take a bus. Or just have Thanksgiving wherever they are and give thanks that they're still alive – since something like this could have had much worse consequences. If their car was not damaged, they can GO AROUND! The spill is only between the New Castle and Allegheny exits on the turnpike, roughly 40 miles. There ARE other roads. People can get off before the spill, travel other roads, and get back on after the spill. Don't be so negative!

      November 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • greg

      Not clear how it's the driver's fault unless he did something that led to the leak - I'm not sure I would notice a leak 30 feet behind me at night. More likely I would blame whoever filled that tank, capped it off, or built the tank... none of whom are likely the driver...

      November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dragonwind

      Why should he be fired? He's driving down the freeway when his trailer sprung a leak. He noticed the leak when he pulled over at a travel plaza. He's not likely the owner of the Vehicle, and probably works for a company. I am sure when he picked up the truck and load everything was visibly fine with his tanker. Sorry but your statement is simply ignorance at it's best.

      If he works for a company (likely) it is the companies responsibility to ensure the Tanker is in operational and safe condition. The driver is required only to make a visible walk around/Inspection to see if there is anything noticeably wrong with the vehicle and trailer. If there isn't anything outwardly wrong with either he can take them out on the road.

      This is more than most Car and SUV/small truck drivers do with their vehicles. I'm going to lay odds the Tanker started leaking from a crack that developed while in operation, something that makes it awfully hard to see... I mean.. do you know when you are going to get a flat tire? More often than not, no you don't, it just happens suddenly and w/o much warning. Or if your car throws a rod (I've had that happen w/o ANY warning).

      By your atatement, anybody that's had a flat or engine trouble should lose their jobs. I swear the American People are geting more and more ignorant and hateful as time goes by.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Keith

    If the driver would have looked in the mirror ONE time...I drive a truck and there is no excuse for this.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      do your mirrors show under your truck and do you have flood lights under the truck to see black goo in the middle of the night?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Roger, highways at lit at night. Not pitch black.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dragonwind

      Keith... if a leak develops under the Tanker, or at the rear of the tanker it isn't likely the driver is going to see it while driving at night on the Turnpike. It's always easy to second guess something when you yourself were not there.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • THE 99%

      At Keith hmm u must b just driving in the city !!! I'm a truck driver and haul milk .. I travel in Kansas , Colorado, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas Texas Louisiana, New Mexico and i can assure u!!!! U will not see BLACK GOO spilling out on a poorly lit highway.. THE MAJORITY of the time there is no lighting!!!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      Let's get real here. The driver should have noticed either that nobody was willing/able to pass him/her or that those who were passing were gesticulating like "look at your leak of incredibly nasty goo". Maybe their windshields would have been spatter-painted with black goop.
      Then- "what's happening here?" and PULL OFF THE ROAD. Don't continue for 40 miles.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • livinlife420

      NOooo you don't!

      November 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • livinlife420 come the people driving their cars did not notice the black goo they were driving on? Or are you always looking for someone to blame

      November 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MontJoe

    Oh My! 'Course everyone drives like they do in the Lexus Commericals. . .just point and drive – don't pay attention to what's going on around you. . . . . . .

    November 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kevin

    Say there janet, would you call someone who gets a flat tire an idiot? You can't notice everything when you pre-trip. You also can't control whether things get fixed or not, if your a driver. Every aspect of your life style is delivered by trucks, we would rather you said thank you and stayed out of the way. Yes some drivers are dumb, but there are plenty of stupid people in other occupations. By the way, I went to college and graduated. The dot com bust of the late 90's cost me my career. So you know what I did? No did not join ows, I found a different job. You should try driving a truck, we'll see how you like being everybodies designated a**hole.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Juls

    Wow. I just missed this. I travelled on this exact sctretch this past Saturday afternoon. That sucks for all the drivers that got stuck in this.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. schnikers

    I do not think it fair that CT should have to claim W either.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Roger

    Why are people hating on the truck driver? Seeing a black substance coming out of the tank at night, probably from below is not something that would be viewable from mirrors. 37 miles and no one passing or being past by the truck noticed it either. If anything, the truck driver probably would have noticed the truck performance changing before noticing the black goo leaking out.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      HUNDREDS of people called the State Police to report the problem.

      And yet no one setup a roadblock and stopped this guy.

      After the truck pulled over AFTER 37 MILES when he finally looked in his rearview mirror and saw the huge mess well it was too late.

      Now even State Police cars and Turnpike Authority vehicles and being towed out of the goo.

      The whole thing was ridiculous.


      November 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kurt H

    I may be missing something, but wouldn't people NOTICE that there is black goo on the road in front of them, predict what it might do to the car, and make the decision to avoid it?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • kd

      It was raining, buckets last night...
      No possible way to see it. If anyone has sealed or had their driveway sealed, for the first few days the driveway simply looks wet, like it just rained.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kenneth

    Welcome to America we are now becoming a thrid world nation... press 1 for english press 2 for spanish Our Eletricity Lines are over 65 years old... with a 40 % faliure rate accross the US... our sewer and water systems grade a " D " on the scale..from A,B,C,D,F.... We fork over billions of dollars to illegal Aliens every day for food and money they do not deserve just because they crossed into america Illegaly ...

    November 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike H from Philly and lives right by the PA turnpike (76) yep im cool

    I am guessing their view of the tar was obsured??? Why would anyone willingly drive over tar. That would definately screw your tires, rims, and suspension. Unless the leak started happening directly in front of them it, and was unavoidable. I would have pulled to the side and tried to reverse down the shoulder.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    The PA Turnpike has to be the worst highway in North America – easy to understand how these folks drove for miles through the goo – they just thought it was the usual potholes, rutts, cracks, and expansion joints.

    PA charging money to drive on that piece of crap is pure theft.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      YOu're right about that. Another neat feature I discovered this morning is that some exits are EZ Pass only.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |

    Ive got the finest degree you can get off teleVisionn! sally struthers said so!

    November 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric

    Boy is that insurance company gonna take it in the teeth. 300 cars, to the tune of at least $2,000 each. That's $600,000, minimum. Every single car that drove thru this crap needs to have all four tires and all four wheels replaced. Completely new brakes and possibly wheel bearings as well. And we're just getting started. Then the entire exhaust need to be removed and and the whole bottom of the car needs to be professionally cleaned to remove the tar before a completely new exhaust is installed. And depending on how much of this crap got on the painted surfaces of the car, a paint job may be needed. Oh, and depending on whether any of this stuff got up on the radiator, that may need to be replaced as well. If this was my brand new Mustang this happened to, I'd sue that insurance company to force them to total it so I could get a new one.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. buhbye

    Looks like congress when you ask them about what they plan to do about the debt crisis

    November 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
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