SALT LAKE CITY -- Drivers across the Salt Lake Valley ended up stuck in the monster traffic jams Wednesday, after a hazmat situation completely shut down I-15 in both directions near 6100 South, and part of I-215.
A trailer came loose from a pickup truck around 9:30 a.m. and hit a semi tanker carrying chemicals, which overturned and led to the day long ordeal.
The Utah Department of Transportation said tens of thousands of drivers got rerouted off of the two highways and into the side streets of Sandy, West Jordan, Taylorsville, Midvale and Murray.
This led to horrendous backups and even more crashes that kept police busy.
“Our surface roads aren't set up to handle interstate traffic,” UDOT Operations Manager Jason Davis said.
He said the traffic control center immediately jumped in to change the timing of traffic lights, and monitor the traffic nightmare that lasted for hours.
No matter which way drivers chose, they faced parking lot-like roads with no option but to slowly inch along. Most were forced to drive State Street, Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway.
“Took me half an hour to go two miles,” one Murray driver said about his drive down Bangerter Highway.
Even those who didn’t venture into the mess still ended up feeling the impacts of the crash.
“I heard all about it, all day long,” said a woman who teaches at an esthetician school. She said students showed up late, and appointments got pushed back.
“[The students] were going through neighborhoods, and just trying to get to school,” she said.
While cars navigated through the maze of streets, trying to find one that promised less traffic, they came upon another headache: more crashes.
Many drivers in Sandy, West Jordan, Taylorsville, Midvale and Murray were quick to report crashes to mobile apps like Waze.
Murray Police said Wednesday evening they responded to seven crashes during the ordeal, many of them along State Street.
UDOT said drivers also reported crashes along I-15.
By late Wednesday afternoon Utah Highway Patrol began to open up both highways to traffic, alleviating the side-street chaos, and returning the Salt Lake area commutes back to normal.