Skip to main content

I-88 Collapse One Year Later

To read our entire coverage of the I-88 collapse, use this link.

Slightly after daybreak on the rainy morning of June 28, 2006, from opposite directions David Swingle and Patrick O'Connell headed towards mile 37 on Interstate 88 not knowing that their paths would cross in the most unfortunate of situations. For two days, heavy and consistent rains had fallen across much of Upstate New York with some locations receiving over a foot. The rains had already caused heavy flooding in many towns that bordered the Delaware River. Throughout the area, waters were rising on the Delaware and surrounding streams that would bring record crests in places like Binghamton, Unadilla, Walton, and Oneonta.

The heavy rains had saturated the ground and runoff along with the persistent rain had swollen numerous streams, rivers and creeks in the area, including Carrs Creek that feeds into the Delaware near Unadilla. Carrs Creek crosses under Interstate 88 just south of the Exit 10 interchange.

Swingle and O'Connell would approach Carrs Creek around 6 am that morning. They never made it across. Sometime around 6 am, the swollen creek had overwhelmed the culvert and surrounding area causing the structure to fail and all four lanes of the highway to collapse into creek.

The first call reporting the collapse came in at 6:02. By then, it is believed that Swingle had already driven into the chasm. The impact of the cab into the ground killed him instantly. Motorists, mainly other truck drivers, saw O'Connells truck -- headed westbound -- and tried to alert him. It was too late, he also crashed into the floodwaters. He had been ejected from his cab and was lying unconscious on the ground when a rescue squad began a rescue attempt at around 6:20. Unfortunately, more of the highway collapsed and O'Connell was soon washed away with the rapids. His body would be found in a nearby field eleven days later.

As the day went on, more of the land surrounding the highway collapsed. The gorge would even swallow the Exit 10 guide sign. The chasm would be nearly 150 feet at its widest point and nearly 60 feet deep. For most of the summer, traffic on Interstate 88 would be detoured onto two lane NY Route 7 between Sidney and Unadilla.

It was later learned that the 33 year old culvert had in a 2004 inspection received a 5 out of a possible 7 rating, considered good. However, numerous structural concerns involving erosion and corrosion were noted. Ironically, a few weeks prior to the collapse, the State had awarded a contract that included the rehabilitation of the culvert which would include a new concrete floor.

After the collapse, an emergency contract to replace the culvert was let. Crews assigned to the project worked nearly non-stop building the culvert on site. Around Labor Day, traffic was returned to Interstate 88 on the Westbound lanes. Traffic was limited to one lane in each direction. Later that fall, the entire roadway was reopened.

However, the completion of a new culvert did not end the problems for I-88 at Carrs Creek. Earlier this year, NYSDOT had to let a contract to replace 8500 cubic yards of polystyrene fill that was used in the construction of the new structure. The fill was structurally failing as the new roadway began to sag. The fill is to be replaced by "expanded shale" at a cost of $1.1 million. Questions have been razed on why the polystyrene fill was used in the first place in addition to environmental concerns as to using what is basically Styrofoam as fill around a body of water. The project is to end in July.

The tragedy of June 29, 2006 gripped numerous communities throughout Upstate New York. Flooding shut off towns from the outside world, numerous homes were gutted and would need to be rebuilt from scratch, and a number of other rural roads would have to be rebuilt from washouts or landslides.

But most importantly, two families lost loved ones that they never had the chance to say goodbye to.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 152

Circumstance had me out in the Monterey Peninsula again this week.  Generally I try to take a route like California State Route 198 or ever County Route J1 to get across the Diablo Range but time had me in a slight bind.  That being the case I took the popular way across the Diablos on California State Route 152 via Pacheco Pass.  152 is one of infamy given it is really the primary route for truckers to get from I-5 west in San Joaquin Valley to US 101 in Salinas Valley.  After zig-zagging some accidents on/off California State Route 99 near Madera in the rural outskirts of the County bearing the same name I began my westbound trek on 152.




CA 152 is called the William Whitehurst Highway, at least it is west from CA 99.  The entire route of CA 152 in San Joaquin is an expressway aside from a small portion in the city of Los Banos.



The first junction on CA 152 is with CA 233 which is a small 4 mile highway that travels northeast to CA 99.






Next westbound CA 152 encounters the junction w…

The National Road - Ohio - Muskingum and Licking Counties

As it travels from Zanesville towards Columbus, US 40 goes through numerous small towns, changes from two to four lanes and back numerous times, but most importantly the old road keeps its rural charm.  Between Zanesville and Gratiot, there are four former alignments of the old road that can be found: just west of Zanesville, Mt. Sterling, Hopewell and Gratiot.  Most stretches are very short and can be easily recognized with names as "Old US 40", "Old National Road" or some combination of the two.

Zanesville:
Just west of US 40's interchange with Interstate 70 (Exit 152) runs an old alignment.

Mt. Sterling:
Another old alignment goes through this small Muskingum County village.
Hopewell:
Today, US 40 passes south of the community of Hopewell.  The old two lane road is known as Hopewell National Road.
Gratiot:
Old US 40 is known as Main Street in this tiny village of 200 or so residents.  The old highway at times seems forgotten through here.
Just west of Gratiot, US 40 …

Throwback Thursday - October 12, 2017

In this week's edition of Throwback Thursday, we travel back to December 2003 to the southern end of Interstate 99 in Bedford, Pennsylvania, where we can see button copy guide signage for US 30 and US 220 (US 220 runs concurrent with I-99 through this part of the Keystone State). Since I-99 was relatively new at the time, it feels like it was an afterthought.