Updated: Tuesday, 22 Dec 2009, 12:45 AM MST
Published : Monday, 21 Dec 2009, 11:03 AM MST
THOREAU, N.M. (KRQE) - Interstate 40 in western New Mexico reopened shortly before 11:30 p.m. Monday after being closed since mid-morning by a crash that flipped a 9,000-gallon propane tanker.
Earlier in the evening New Mexico State Police reported the process of transferring 8,000 gallons of propane to another tanker was taking longer than expected. Another 1,000 gallons of the compressed gas leaked after the crash raising the threat of a catastrophic explosion although none occurred.
The crash happened in the eastbound lanes at mile marker 47 at about 10:15 a.m. Monday when a car in the left lane somehow got under the wheels of the propane trailer in the right lane.
The tractor-trailer rig rolled over onto the shoulder. No serious injuries were reported in the collision.
State Police quickly shut down 25 miles of I-40 from Thoreau west of Grants to Church Rock east of Gallup and began detouring traffic. The 45-mile detour routed motorists onto State Roads 566 and 379 and a Navajo Nation road connecting the two highways.
Compounding the massive backups has been what police are calling heavier than normal holiday traffic.