BUFFALO —As of press time late Friday night, a significant section of U.S. 35 remained closed after a tractor-trailer overturned near the intersection of the Buffalo Bridge just across the Mason County line into Putnam County on Friday morning.
Estimates on when the roadway would reopen were as late as Saturday morning with rain reportedly hindering cleanup of the area.
The tractor-trailer was reportedly carrying 80 55-gallon drums of a chemical called glutaraldehyde. Glutaraldehyde is used to disinfect medical and dental equipment and used for industrial water treatment as a preservative. Due to the chemical spill, some nearby residents were evacuated as a precaution. The West Virginia Department of Transportation was also reporting diesel fuel spilled from the truck.
Throughout the day, the Mason County Emergency Management Agency was attempting to get the word out about the accident to motorists traveling U.S. 35. At first, not only was U.S. 35 closed but so were portions of State Routes 62 and 817 just outside of Point Pleasant and Henderson. State Routes 62 and 817 later reopened to local traffic but no commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, were permitted. Local residents were also permitted to travel portions of U.S. 35 in Mason County after some time had passed but they could not travel beyond the county line along U.S. 35 due to the road closure.
Traffic was affected in not only Mason but Gallia and Meigs counties as well with several motorists trying to find alternate routes to their destinations - official detours being W.Va. 2 to Ripley/Ravenswood and W.Va. 2 to Huntington.
The accident will likely stir up the debate that the 14-mile stretch of U.S. 35 which remains at two lanes is a danger and inconvenience to motorists. The state more recently approved upgrading the 14-mile stretch with wider lanes and better drainage with less than three miles remaining to be finished near the area of the Buffalo Bridge. However, despite the upgrades, critics of the design of the road say it remains a far cry from four lanes and presents a hazard to motorists.
Earlier this year, the Mason County Commission met with representatives from Congressman Nick J. Rahall’s office about the importance of the road’s completion to four lanes. As Commissioner Rick Handley said during the meeting, this project was basically 14.6 miles which were needed for the entire country. Those 14.6 miles link Michigan to Florida, Handley explained.
As for emergency updates from Mason County EMA, residents can sign up for free emergency alerts, including text alerts to their phones by going to the Nixle website at https://local.nixle.com/register/. Mason County EMA can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.