SAN FRANCISCO — The trucking company whose gasoline tanker exploded last month, crippling a busy Bay Area freeway interchange, saw its hazardous-materials transportation license suspended Friday, just hours after the last damaged portion of the MacArthur Maze reopened.
The California Highway Patrol suspended Sabek Transportation's license because of safety and hazardous-materials violations discovered during a recent inspection of the company's Salinas Valley terminal, said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader.
Two legs of the MacArthur Maze interchange, which routes traffic onto and off of the Bay Bridge, were severely damaged April 29 when a tanker truck hauling 8,600 gallons of gasoline overturned and exploded.
Only the driver was injured in the early morning accident, and he has been released from the hospital. An investigation is ongoing, Clader said.
Sabek officials, who have appealed the suspension, did not return telephone calls Friday.
The truck crashed on the interchange from westbound Interstate 80 to southbound Interstate 880, which carries traffic from Berkeley and Vallejo south toward San Jose. Heat from the fire softened the freeway's steel frame, and the eastbound Interstate 580 connector collapsed onto the I-880 connector.
The damaged section of I-880 reopened May 7. And I-580, which was expected to reopen in June, saw its first cars at 8:40 p.m. Thursday -- far enough ahead of schedule that construction company C.C. Meyers Inc. earned a $5-million bonus.
The total cost of the accident -- including demolition, reconstruction, traffic control and a day of free public transit -- was $22.7 million.
The federal government has agreed to reimburse the state for all but the cost of giving commuters free rides on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) buses and trains the day after the accident. Negotiations continue over that $2.5 million, said Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus.
At a celebratory news conference Friday morning, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Meyers "performed miracles" to get the freeway reopened 32 days early and described the rapid reconstruction as an example of government teamwork.
"Everyone worked together extraordinarily fast," Schwarzenegger said at the repair site. "Government many times gets blamed for not being efficient enough or not responding quickly enough. But I think this is a perfect example of where government has really shown its best side."