One lane of the roadway reopened after 14 hours of being closed. The other lane of the two lane parkway reopened just in time for Thursday’s evening rush hour.
In a statement issued Thursday, AAA’s Lon Anderson, the group’s director of public and government relations, called the bus incident a “travesty” for traffic in the region and showed the National Park Service’s “inability to appropriately manage transportation facilities under its control.” The park service is in charge of some major highways around the area, including the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Rock Creek Parkway.
Anderson went on, saying the more than 12 hour closure — during the morning rush hour — from a crash that happened the night before was “outrageous and cost tens of thousands of commuters … untold hours caught in congestion, as commuters jam packed alternative routes.”
He added that the bus incident comes just part of the Memorial Bridge had to be shut down to deal with eroding parts. The bridge is maintained by the Park Service as well.
He asked congressional leaders to find solutions. Got any?
Anderson said, “In an area that needs more rush hour capacity, closing half of a major commuter artery during morning rush hour because of poor incident management of a crash that happened the night before is unacceptable.”
On Thursday, officials with the Fairfax County Fire department were able to shut off the fuel flow, park police said. But “not before a large quantity had poured out onto the roadway,” according to Lelani Woods, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Park Police.
She said that overnight rainfall on Wednesday night caused the spill to spread. At daybreak on Thursday, authorities said they realized that they needed to keep the road closed to deal with the cleanup. Containment booms were placed at drainage areas along the roadway to try to make sure the spill did not spread more into the surrounding area.
On Friday, Woods referred calls regarding the AAA statement to an official with the National Park Service. His e-mail said he was out of the office for the day and another spokeswoman for the agency did not immediately respond.
Some drivers questioned why the tour bus was on the George Washington Parkway, noting the restrictions for some types of vehicles on the roadway.
In an e-mail sent on Friday, Woods said “trucks are not allowed” on the parkway, but buses are.
Woods also said, “In regards to the citation of the driver and cleanup recovery costs, both are pending.”
Scenes — and reaction — from the Thursday cleanup of the G-W Parkway: