'Perfect storm' of events caused 30-car pileup on I-40 in Raleigh, NCDOT says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The NCDOT is investigating whether heavy rainfall played a role in the 30-car pileup that closed Interstate 40 in Raleigh for several hours Wednesday.

The crash sent seven people to the hospital with minor injuries.

"This was sort of a perfect storm in a way," said NCDOT spokesperson Steve Abbott.

The crash happened near Jones Sausage Road as storms were rolling through.

Highway Patrol is blaming storms for the initial crash that caused one car to hydroplane. They said a total of 30 cars were involved.

There is no shoulder on either side of the highway and barriers are in place due to construction.

"We can't move the barriers. There's nothing we can do," said Abbott. "The drainage worked fine. There's drainage there so the water goes off the road."

ABC11 Meteorologist Steve Stewart pulled up the radar to see what the weather was like at the time of the wreck.

"Any time you see this oranges and reds, the rainfall rates are going to be very intense. Blinding rain, you can't see anything," Stewart said. "This was just really excessively heavy rainfall. Rainfall rates were probably close to three inches per hour. When that happens, you get ponding on the roadway."

The highway is being widened right now. The project starts at I-440 in Wake County and ends at NC-42 in Johnston County.

There will be no shoulder on that stretch for the next two to three years.

In the meantime, the NCDOT is urging folks to slow down.

"You need to put space between vehicles in front of you because there's not as much recovery room," said Abbott. "If someone gets in trouble and you're right on their bumper, you're going to get in trouble and that's what happened yesterday."

ABC11 asked the NCDOT for crash data along the 12-mile stretch of construction. There were 49 wrecks last month, but that is slightly down from April.

ABC11 is waiting for Highway Patrol to release its report, which could take several days since so many cars were involved.
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