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Originally published April 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 12, 2005 at 6:16 PM

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"Sticky situation" on northbound I-5

The warm tar that oozed from a tanker truck that crashed and ruptured on Interstate-5 in Seattle late this morning was cleaned up shortly after 2 p.m. today, opening all lanes to traffic.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The warm tar that oozed from a tanker truck that crashed and ruptured on Interstate-5 in Seattle late this morning was cleaned up shortly after 2 p.m. today, opening all lanes to traffic.

The truck crashed and split open about 11 a.m., spreading the tar across northbound Interstate 5 near the Mercer Street exit and creating a gooey mess that eventually hardened, was broken up and hauled off.

State Patrol spokeswoman Kelly Spangler said the tar spread out "in a swath 10 to 15 feet wide" and one- to two inches deep across all four lanes of traffic.

Just before 11 a.m., the rear part of a double tanker trailer spilled over but the truck driver "continued driving about 100 yards before he stopped," Spangler said. The tankers are heated to keep the tar warm.

Firefighters doused the steaming goo with water to harden it, said Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick. She couldn't say how much of the tanker's 3,200 gallon-load spilled through a nine-inch gash in the side of the rear tanker.

Immediately after the accident, backed-up vehicles were turned around while drivers heading to I-5 from Interstate 90 had to exit onto Madison Street; on-ramps at University Street and Olive Way were also closed.

Later, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) opened express lanes so northbound vehicles could get around the accident. DOT also warned Seattle officials to expect congestion on city streets, said DOT spokesman Travis Phelps.

News of the rollover got out quickly "so people stayed off the highway and backups were never more than a couple miles long," Phelps said.

All lanes reopened at 2:13 p.m.

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