The southbound inside lane of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay reopened about 6 p.m. Tuesday after a tanker truck crashed into the barrier walls and caught fire near the top of the span nearly eight hours earlier, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
The outside lane will remain closed overnight as crews work to repair damage to the bridge, FHP troopers said shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday.
At about 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, a 2007 Mack truck blew out a right-front tire. The 48-year-old Tampa man driving the tanker lost control as he was going over the Skyway Bridge southbound at mile marker 12.5, according to a news release. The tanker truck crashed into barrier walls multiple times over a distance of 800 feet before coming to rest and catching fire.
Pinellas County Fire Rescue personnel were able to extinguish the fire. Bridge inspectors are checking the integrity of the bridge, according to FHP.
The tanker was carrying about 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel owned by JVS Contracting of Tampa, according to FHP spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins. About 3,000 gallons of fuel are still in the tanker.
The driver, who was able to get out of the truck, sustained minor injuries and was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital to be treated.
Just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, northbound lanes reopened after more than two hours.
Traffic was blocked on the south side in Manatee County at mile marker 2 on Interstate 275 to avoid drivers getting stuck on the bridge, according to FHP trooper Kenn Watson. Drivers were diverted to alternates routes.
“All of the (Department of Transportation) signs are advising drivers of the vehicle fire and what the alternate routes are,” Watson said. “We are doing everything we can to get people off prior to entering the Skyway.”