Truck smashes through guardrail on I-93 north, leaving cab dangling in air; Friday commute turns into a slog

A tractor-trailer truck hurtled off the road and was impaled on a guardrail this afternoon on Interstate 93 north heading out of Boston, leaving the truck’s cab dangling over the Leverett Connector ramp 40 feet below, authorities said.

The driver and passenger in the beer truck both were able to exit and were uninjured. A second, smaller truck was damaged in the crash. That driver was taken to a hospital for treatment, said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.

The response to the crash, which was reported at about 2:10 p.m., forced lane reductions and the complete closure of the busy artery, as well as the Leverett Connector ramp, for a time, creating headaches for thousands hoping to escape the city for the weekend.

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“This accident tied up everything. It had a big impact on the commute out of the city. It was gridlock,” said MacDonald.

It took two hours to get the truck disentangled, said MacDonald. “It was not easy because of the way the truck was wedged into the guardrail,” he said.

He said one front tire of the cab was ripped off and bounced into the road below as the entire front axle, along with the other tire, was rammed into the back axle, and got jammed into the guardrail.

Two tow truck companies were summoned to the scene to extricate the truck. One ran a massive cable in the rear of the truck, and the other lifted it up off the guardrail, he said.

He said the state Transportation Department was summoned to bring sanders because a large amount of fuel had spilled on the road, making it “like a skating lane.”

Workers will do a more thorough job of cleaning the road later in the evening, he said.

The State Police will investigate the cause of the accident, MacDonald said.

The truck was removed from I-93, the Transportation Department was sanding the road, and firefighters had left the scene, by about 5:20 p.m., fire officials said. At about 6:15 p.m., the department said all lanes were open, but there were heavy traffic delays.

Orange Line service was also shut down for a time from Oak Grove to Back Bay because of the crash, and commuter trains were held at North Station. By about 4:50 p.m., service had been restored, MBTA Transit Police said. A number of train tracks run roughly along and underneath the elevated highway in the area of the crash.

But shortly after 6 p.m., the MBTA reported that the Orange Line was still experiencing severe delays and shuttle buses were being run between North Station and Community College.

Traffic on Interstate 93 north at one point was backed up for about 12 miles through Braintree, said Transportation Department spokesman Mike Verseckes.

The Massachusetts Turnpike eastbound through the Prudential Center also backed up to the Allston/Brighton tolls and experienced heavy traffic, Verseckes said.

Traffic appeared to be improving by 6:30 p.m., according to the boston.com traffic information service.

Today’s crash was just 10 to 20 feet south of the spot where a Boston Globe delivery truck was hit Monday by another car before sailing over the guardrail and onto the ramp below, Verseckes said.

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Did you have a nightmare commute this afternoon? E-mail reporter Travis Andersen at Tandersen@globe.com to share your story with us.