3 Metro Detroit tanker crashes to cost state $1M

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Three recent tanker crashes on Metro Detroit freeways this year will take a $1 million bite from Michigan’s transportation budget, and the state may have to wait up to a year to recoup the costs through insurance, officials said.

Full cost estimates from last week’s tanker explosion on Interstate 75 near Outer Drive in Lincoln Park have not been tallied, but the Michigan Department of Transportation officials believe the price tag will be well above the $200,000 contract to repair the road when environmental cleanup and first responder costs are factored in.

Two other crashes — one on Stroh’s Curve on I-75 at Interstate 375 in May, and another tanker explosion on Interstate 94 between U.S. 12 and Wyoming in March — cost $600,000 and $300,000 respectively to repair just the roadway, MDOT officials said.

“There is more than paying for repairs of the road,” said Rob Morosi, a spokesman for MDOT.

The heavily damaged I-75 portion of the northbound lanes reopened late Sunday after the most recent tanker crash last Thursday. The accident caused 8,000 gallons of fuel to sear the roadway three inches deep.

Roddy Blaine Winn, the 53-year-old driver of the tanker, died Thursday night after suffering burns over 90 percent of his body. Michigan State Police cited driver error in the crash.

Morosi said it generally takes a year for the state to collect insurance payments for these types of tanker accidents and that there is a $1 million cap per incident. The state, he said, hasn’t collected insurance money from any of the accidents thus far.

The funds come from the maintenance portion of the state’s $300 million transportation budget that helps pay for, among other things, snow removal, pothole repairs, traffic signals.

“While it is an additional costs that we we’re anticipating, it’s still nominal compared to the cost to the individual driver who is affected by road closures and delays and how it affects everyday commerce on the freeways,” Morosi said.


(313) 222-2620