An accident involving two trucks closed the Mexico City-Cuernavaca toll highway for 16 hours yesterday, provoking a traffic nightmare for motorists traveling in both directions between the two cities.
At 2:35am, a double-trailer tanker truck carrying liquefied petroleum gas sideswiped a truck transporting 25 tonnes of cement, causing the first vehicle to overturn at the 73-kilometer mark on the highway in the direction of Morelos.
Neither driver was injured but the tank of the rear trailer — which detached from the lead trailer — sustained a fracture, producing a gas leak.
Federal Police closed the highway in both directions amid fears that an explosion could occur. The drivers of both vehicles reportedly fled the scene of the accident.
The road didn’t reopen until 7:20pm after the company that owns the tanker truck had removed the gas it was carrying.
Thousands of cars traveling to Cuernavaca, a popular weekend destination for Mexico City residents, and other areas of Morelos and Guerrero were consequently diverted to the old federal highway between the two cities.
Motorists traveling to the capital were also forced to exit the toll road to complete their journey.
Traffic jams in both directions left vehicles stranded for hours, with motorists covering as little as 100 meters in 45 minutes in some sections of the old road.
Five members of the Rivera Rubio family were among thousands of people who were left frustrated, hot and bothered when their journey stretched hours beyond the normal traveling time of around one and a half hours.
The family left their home in Cuatitlán Izcalli, México state, at around 11:00am to travel to the Morelos capital for a long-planned weekend away.
Gustavo Rivera had estimated that the journey to the Tlalpan toll gates in the south of Mexico City would take one hour at the most and from there the distance to Cuernavaca is less than 70 kilometers.
However, the trip ended up lasting more than seven hours and the family, including two young children, were forced to endure temperatures that rose above 25 C.
While the family was luckier than some others because they had packed food and water for their journey, when nature called for Rivera’s three-year-old son there was no other option than for him to go to the toilet on the side of the road.
Rivera also told the newspaper El Universal that when he wound down the car windows in pursuit of some relief from the heat, he did so with a certain sense of fear due to stories of highway robberies and attacks.