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Downtown Connector Shut Down By Chemical Spill From Accident

The Atlanta Police Department is investigating the accident that caused a chemical spill early this morning.
The Atlanta Police Department is investigating the accident that caused a chemical spill early this morning.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press
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Atlanta traffic keeps taking a hit, two weeks after the collapse of the I-85 bridge.

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Early Monday morning, several hours before Interstate 20 was closed after buckling near the Gresham Road exit, the Downtown Connector was shut down due to an accident that spilled toxic chemicals onto the road.

Shortly before 3 a.m., a tractor-trailer carrying hazardous materials hit a stopped SUV on the connector near the 10th Street exit, dumping benzoyl chloride. That’s classified as a hazardous material that can burn the skin and eyes and can be toxic if inhaled.

“We were able to contain it within 150 yards of the scene. It required our officers and the fire department to put on hazmat suits,” said Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard.

The trucker, Matthew Bowden, got a ticket for driving inside Interstate 285, which isn’t allowed for tractor-trailers unless they’re making local deliveries. Pickard said he didn’t know why Bowden chose to drive on the Downtown Connector.

Mitchell Epstein, the SUV driver, was cited for several traffic violations, including driving with an expired license.

Traffic was shut down in both directions on the connector for several hours, causing delays to the Monday morning rush hour and classes at Georgia State University.