Drivers frustrated over Turnpike crash traffic chaos

Posted: Updated:

Traffic conditions in the Garden State vastly improved Wednesday following a deadly truck crash and fire on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The fatal accident blocked off a 16-mile stretch of the highway for nearly 12 hours and caused traffic backups on most of New Jersey's other highways. Commuters say they were struck in the chaos for several hours as they made their way around the state.

As the accident investigation continues, many around the state are asking why it took so long for repairs to be made and roads to reopen.

Former Turnpike Authority spokesperson and transportation consultant Joe Orlando says no one is to blame and that it is just the result of circumstances beyond anyone's control. He says that the Turnpike Authority and Department of Transportation did all they could to control traffic and inform the driving public.

"They did all the right things, they just rain out of real estate," says Orlando. "There were too many vehicles and a lot of people don't pay attention to signs."

However, environmental group Sierra Club thinks more should have been done. The group says that the traffic could have been mitigated by changing patterns, eliminating tolls, and using police to direct cars.

"Why wasn't there a plan for people to turn around and get out instead of being stuck on the Turnpike for hours?" asks Jeff Tittle, director of The New Jersey Sierra Club.

Orlando says it is likely the organizations that responded to the accident will use it as a learning experience and make improvements in case it happens again.

State police say that the truck involved in the backup hit a vehicle that was being towed, then careened left, overturned and hit a bridge before bursting into flames.

The identity of the driver has not been released.

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