MERCED -- Highway officials finally reopened both northbound lanes of Highway 99 this afternoon, hours after a big rig accident closed down the highway for more than five hours this morning.
The big rig carrying a load of recycled glass drifted into the center divide, hit the guardrail and overturned about 3:15 a.m., said officer Shane Ferriera, spokesman for the CHP’s Merced office. The driver suffered minor injuries, he said. Crews needed both lanes closed while to upright the truck. The slow lane reopened about 9 a.m.
The California Department of Transportation still had the fast lane closed while it scooped up the broken glass and repaired 250 feet of guardrail, Ferriera said. He expected that closure to last at least until late morning.
Traffic on northbound Highway 99 slowed to a crawl during the closure, and cars at one point backed up three miles on the freeway according to reports to the CHP. Motorists were diverted off of the freeway at R Street and onto a 3½-mile detour through the city of Merced before getting back on the freeway at Franklin Road.