30 November, 1988 (~estimated)
Tractor Trailer Hits Pole; Bayard Lane Closed Off
The portion of Route 206 and Bayard Lane between Mountain Avenue and Hodge Road had to be closed to traffic Tuesday, after a tractor trailer swerved into a utility pole opposite Leigh Avenue.
The mishap on the heavily-travelled road backed up traffic that was still being affected more than 12 hours after the accident. The southbound lane of Bayard Lane was not expected to be opened until late in the evening.
The driver of the 16-wheel tractor trailer, Virgil Blalock, 58, of Delran, escaped serious injury.
The impact snapped a Public Service pole in two and al-though the ‘wires sagged they were not severed. A Public Service spokesman said that customers may have experienced momentary outages at the time of the accident — 4 :39 in the morning — but there were no extended outages.
The impact also tore a 100- gallon diesel fuel tank from the truck and the smell of the leaking fuel was noticeable at the scene. Princeton Fire Chief Richard McKee reported that a representative of the Department of Environmental Protection from Hamilton Township had rushed to the scene. “It’s recoverable,” said Chief McKee, of the fuel oil which leached into the ground and nearby storm drains.
Car Failed to Stop.
Mr. Blalock, after being treated and released at Princeton Medical Center and wearing a fireman’s coat lent to him to keep warm, said at the scene that he had been coming down the Bayard Lane hill, hauling a load of Sears equipment on his way to Pompton Lakes, when a car suddenly shot out of Leigh Avenue without stopping. “It was either hit the brakes or kill somebody,” he said.
He braked to avoid the car, lost control, and his truck jackknifed across the south bound lanes. It struck the pole, snapping it.
When he said he saw some sparking at the top of the pole, he wasted no time getting out of the cab. Mr. Blalock report-ed that he had received a cut on his hand, a bruised shoulder and “a knot on his head —which will go down, I hope.”
The offending car sped off. “I actually heard him take off,” said Mr. Blalock, who seemed more offended at that than anything else.
Soon a small army of Public Service trucks and repairmen were on the scene, trying to determine how to remove the truck, which was supporting some of the wires, and put up a new pole without interrupting service.
Included in the wires, said Capt. Thomas Michaud of the Borough police, were a number of important trunk lines that supply power to nearby institutions, including Merwick.
Traffic headed north was detoured down Hodge Road to Elm to Mountain Avenue or down Paul Robeson Place to Witherspoon. Elm Road looked more like Nassau with its long line of slowly-moving cars. Traffic coming south was rerouted down Mountain to Elm to Stockton or down Mountain to The Great Road.
Ptl. Edward Sullivan is conducting the police investigation into the accident, assisted by Sgt. Charles Davall. The tractor trailer is operated by the Signal Delivery Service of Philadelphia.