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1 dead after crash on Interstate 55 near Atlanta

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Replacing a bridge brings engineering and financial challenges for all levels of government.

SHIRLEY — A 63-year-old man from Mascoutah is dead after a series of traffic crashes Wednesday on Interstate 55 south of Bloomington, according to Illinois State Police.

Traffic heading in both directions on I-55 near Shirley first came to a halt early Wednesday afternoon because of an overturned semitrailer truck in the southbound lanes, authorities said.

The semi overturned at 12:42 p.m. on the Timber Creek bridge, near milepost 151, about 3 miles south of Shirley and just north of the Funks Grove rest area exit. 

The semi was entering a construction zone on the bridge when its driver failed to slow for traffic in front of him, according to the ISP. The truck struck the rear of an SUV, which then struck the sedan in front of it. 

ISP said the series of collisions caused the truck tractor portion of the semitrailer to become suspended over the bridge. 

The semi driver was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries, while the driver and the passengers — two juveniles — of the SUV were transported with minor injuries, ISP said.

The driver and passengers of the sedan, all adults, were all transported with minor injuries. 

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Bloomington Fire Department spokesman Eric Davison said the department's hazardous-materials unit was on the scene to control a fuel spill caused by a "small puncture" in the semi's diesel tank.

Some of the fuel appeared to have leaked into the nearby Timber Creek and fire crews deployed buoys in the water to absorb the fuel, Davison said.  

Dispatches for mutual aid were sent to neighboring municipalities' emergency departments, including McLean, Heyworth and Normal.   

IDOT at 2:26 p.m. said on social media that southbound traffic was being diverted at exit 154 and northbound traffic was being diverted at exit 145. 

Then, at approximately 3:29 p.m., a semitrailer truck driven by a 57-year-old man from Mishicot, Wisconsin, was traveling north in the right-hand lane of I-55 near mile marker 143, according to a news release from ISP.

The truck was slowing down due to traffic being backed up from the previous crash on southbound I-55. A tanker-trailer driven by the 63-year-old man from Mascoutah failed to slow down and struck the semitrailer, ISP stated.

The driver of the tanker-trailer was pronounced deceased on the scene by the McLean County coroner. The driver of the semitrailer was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

I-55 was open in both directions as of Thursday morning, the Mt. Hope-Funks Grove Fire Protection District said on social media. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include details about the first accident. 

Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert


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