Wreck North of Black Canyon City Shuts Down I-17 For Hours

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i-17 crash tour bus
The I-17 crash on May 14, 2017 was said to involve a tour bus and several cars and trucks. Photo courtesy DPS

Update Monday, May 15: Details of the Crash Sequence Released

UPDATED 10:29 p.m., May 14 — Southbound lanes of I-17 closed for several hours Sunday afternoon into the evening north of Black Canyon City after a “multi-vehicle collision,” according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. There were injuries, but none were life-threatening, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement. Motorists began moving past the accident at around 9:30 p.m and the interstate fully reopened just before 11 p.m.

At one point, traffic was backed up at least 5 miles, officials said, from the site of the accident northward beyond the Sunset Point rest area — a stretch known to be crash-prone (see data below). As of 9 p.m., several hours after the wreck, the interstate was still closed. “We understand it’s difficult being stuck on the road, but don’t know when it will reopen,” ADOT tweeted.

Traffic not stuck behind the accident was being rerouted on State Route 69, well to the north.

The cause of the accident, and exactly what vehicles were involved, was not clear as of this writing. One photo posted by DPS showed a semi-truck crashed into a guard rail. Another showed a tour bus that appeared to be damaged.

At about 9:30 p.m., ADOT announced that those stuck between the crash scene and State Route 69 “will be able to pass on the shoulder” to get around the crash site. “Troopers have opened a lane and are beginning to move traffic southbound,” DPS tweeted a moment later. ADOT said shortly thereafter that any southbound traffic north of State Route 69 would continue to be routed off I-17, but “motorists south of SR 69 may pass by the crash on the shoulder.”

At around 10:53 p.m., ADOT announced the interstate had reopened. “All restrictions lifted,” the agency tweeted. “Plz be patient. It’ll take a while for backups to clear.”

Crash-Prone Stretch

Accidents on I-17 between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point:
2011: 94
2015: 137
SOURCE: ADOT

As one way to improve safety, ADOT aims to create “reversible lanes” on the 8-mile grade between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point, so that, for example, southbound traffic on Sunday could have three lanes to work with. There is no funding yet in place for the proposal, however.

I-17 crash semi
What looks to be a semi-truck crashed into a guard rail on I-17 Sunday, May 14, 2017. Photo courtesy DPS
post-crash traffic
Southbound I-17 traffic on Sunday night nearing Anthem after the crash was cleared. Image courtesy ADOT
i-17 crash backup
The backup stretched at least 5 miles at one point in time. Image courtesy ADOT
adot I-17 crash route
The alternate route suggested by ADOT.

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Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.

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