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TEAM COVERAGE: What drivers need to know about damage to I-75 after plane crash

Posted at 5:22 PM, Feb 12, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — Turns out there is more work to be done along the southbound lanes of I-75 following Friday's fiery plane crash.

The crash happened Friday afternoon, during rush hour in the peak of tourist season. 5 people were on board the flight out of Columbus, Ohio, bound for Naples, when both engines failed and the plane crashed into the southbound lanes of the interstate, between Pine Ridge Road and Golden Gate Parkway. The 2 pilots died, but 3 others survived.

If there is any good news, it's that the Florida Department of Transportation says your driving lanes are safe.

"There was no damage to the travel lanes caused by the airplane," said Janella Newsome, FDOT's director of public information for district 1.

The interstate reopened Sunday night in time for the work week commute.

See a time-lapse of crews working to reopen I-75 after the plane crash.

However, Newsome said experts were still examining some outer portions of the roadway.

"There was, however, an isolated spot on the outside edge of the travel lane where some of the asphalt was covered in liquid that came from the airplane," Newsome explained.

They're not sure if it's jet fuel, coolant, water or something else.

"If the asphalt was covered in jet fuel, then that stretch of the asphalt will start deteriorating rapidly over the next week and our contractor will need to mill and resurface that area," Newsome said.

Along with that portion of the lane, she says there's about 200 feet of the outside paved shoulder covered in the same liquid.

"So if the outside shoulder begins deteriorating, we will evaluate if it needs to be repaired as well," she said.

While also looking at the road, crews are going to take a closer look at the sound barrier wall. A portion was completely wiped out by the jet.

"There were approximately 600 feet of panels that were either burnt or physically broken," Newsome said.

Engineers will inspect the condition and do an assessment by mid-week to check damage to the vertical columns holding the wall panels.

"If it has been permanently damaged, then that probably means reconstructing that whole barrier wall," Newsome said. "If it hasn’t been permanently damaged, then that means the only thing that needs to be replaced are the panels."

There is another area they're looking at: the ground where the plane crash.

"One of the biggest concerns in term of repairs is not safety-related, but rather environmental," Newsome said.

She says FDOT is waiting for the final report from the FAA hazmat contamination team.

"We believe there is going to be a significant amount of soil excavation that we have to do due to the jet fuel leak," Newsome said.

This will be about 600 feet by 70 feet and should be as deep as eight to 12 inches.

She believes FDOT will have a role in the excavation.

Newsome says a sign was also damaged during the plane crash and a contractor is working on making new sign panels.

It's not clear if they will have to close lanes for repairs, but Fox 4 will let you know if FDOT has any portions of I-75 closed when this does happen.