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Crash inside O’Neill Tunnel snarls morning commute

Delays on Interstate 93 south extended out to Woburn. Pictured: Traffic near Assembly Square, before the start of the Lower Deck.
Delays on Interstate 93 south extended out to Woburn. Pictured: Traffic near Assembly Square, before the start of the Lower Deck.MassDOT

A multi-vehicle accident in Boston’s O’Neill Tunnel injured one man and caused major traffic delays Wednesday morning.

The crash happened when a tractor-trailer ran over a metal door that flew off the back of a garbage truck, spilling oil and gas onto the road and causing seven vehicles to spin out, State Police said.

The garbage truck was heading south at 5:15 a.m. when one of its metal doors came off, according to David Procopio, a State Police spokesman.

Seconds later, a tractor-trailer drove over the debris, rupturing its oil pan and gas tank and spilling fluids all over the road. The driver immediately realized that he had hit something and pulled over a short distance later near Exit 2.

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Seven cars spun out and bumped into one another as they drove through the slippery mess left behind by the tractor-trailer, Procopio said.

“One of the cars lost control on the slippery fluid and slid underneath the bed of the trailer that had spewed the fluid,” Procopio said.

The man driving that car had to be extricated by the Boston firefighters. He was taken to a Boston hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Procopio said.

All lanes of the southbound side of I-93 as well as Exit 20 from I-93 to I-90 West were shut down, while crews removed the tractor-trailer, according to Mike Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Boston firefighters laid down a drying agent to absorb the spill, and MassDOT arrived with a sander to help in the cleanup, Procopio said.

State Police were able to open up two lanes of the highway by 5:50 a.m. and another sander was brought in by MassDOT to sop up the remainder of the spill, Procopio said.

All lanes were reopened by 6:50 a.m. but drivers still faced a lengthy traffic jam. For those who traveled on I-93 between Woburn and Cambridge Street in Somerville, the 8 a.m. commute that would normally take 30 minutes took over an hour and half, Verseckes said.

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