Published Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 | 4:48 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 | 11:29 p.m.
A chemical spill forced authorities to shut down Interstate 515 in the downtown area Wednesday, backing up traffic for miles and creating a traffic gridlock that spilled into city streets.
The road was closed in both directions about 4:20 p.m. as hazmat crews responded to the scene near the Eastern Avenue interchange. Southbound lanes reopened about 5:20 p.m., then northbound lanes were reopened after 7 p.m. -- nearly three hours later.
Eastern Avenue also was briefly closed under the freeway.
Sulfuric acid was leaking from a 55-gallon drum on a flatbed truck, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said. The truck's driver pulled over after being alerted to the spill by another driver.
The driver of the truck pulled over near the bridge over Eastern Avenue, Szymanski said. Firefighters used a chemical to neutralize the acid on the roadway.
Sulfuric acid is a chemical commonly used on construction projects. Szymanski said the truck was returning to the company's distribution facility in North Las Vegas after leaving a construction site near Boulder City.
The cause of the leak will be investigated by the company that distributes the chemical, authorities said.
The northbound lanes of I-515, also known as U.S. 95, were closed at Charleston Boulevard while southbound lanes had been closed at Las Vegas Boulevard.
Traffic quickly backed up in both directions, Szymanski said. At about 6:30 p.m., northbound traffic was at a crawl back to the Tropicana Avenue interchange.
No one was injured as a result of the leak.