HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Yellow means slow on Interstate 68 in western Maryland, where 6,500 gallons of spilled paint will keep cleanup workers busy for several days, officials said Thursday.
The driver of a westbound tractor-trailer carrying plastic barrels of white and yellow paint was illegally texting on a cellphone when he lost control of the vehicle Wednesday evening in the mountains 10 miles west of Hancock, Maryland State Police said. Barrels flew from the flatbed trailer as it overturned, splashing slippery paint along several hundred feet of pavement.
No accidents stemming from the spill were reported.
There was enough spilled paint to fill an above-ground swimming pool. It was traffic paint, meant to be put on roads — but not like this. And like those durable stripes on the highway, it's hard to remove.
"We can't wash it off," said State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck. "The stuff that's on the road literally has to be scraped off."
He said the cleanup will last at least through Saturday night, with one of the two westbound lanes closed during daylight hours. The work will slow weekend travelers heading west from Baltimore and Washington, both about 100 miles away.
The spill closed both westbound lanes for about 12 hours overnight, backing up traffic for up to 2 miles as cars detoured onto state Route 144, Buck said.
Truck driver David M. Vaughn, 33, was charged with negligent driving and using a hand-held mobile phone while operating a commercial vehicle. He couldn't be reached for comment. A message left at his apparent home phone number in Ohio wasn't immediately returned.
The trucking company, RDF Logistics Inc. of Lorain, Ohio, declined to comment on the wreck.