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I-40 EB near Tennessee closed overnight after tanker spills tar

An overturned tanker closed both eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 near the Tennessee state line on Friday. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

An overturned tanker closed both eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 near the Tennessee state line Friday.

The N.C. Department of Transportation said the truck was 95 percent full of tar, and spilled its contents. Officials said the interstate would remain closed overnight.

"We will work through the night and through the day tomorrow. We will do whatever it takes. We cannot open it back up until we feel the road is safe," said Kyle Baldwin, of Hawyood County NCDOT.

According to N.C. Highway Patrol, the driver of the truck was speeding when he took the turn just past Exit 7 and lost control, causing the tanker to tip over and smash into the median.

The driver was transported to Mission Hospital. There has been no word on the extent of his injuries.

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An environmental company from Greensboro was brought in to strip away the residual mess.

"Hopefully, it's going to get down to the surface and peel this off," Baldwin said.

Drivers heading east on I-40 from the Knoxville area can take I-81 north then I-26 east to reach Asheville.

Drivers have been utilizing the on and off ramps at Exit 7 to continue on I-40, but the backup extended to the Tennessee late before noon Friday.

Several NCDOT Incident Management Assistance Patrol (IMAP) vehicles are assisting with traffic control in the crash area, while the tar spill is cleaned up. That work could keep the highway closed until 9 p.m.


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