Southbound traffic on the Maine Turnpike near Exit 45 in South Portland was slowed down for more than four hours Tuesday night after a sport utility vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer truck carrying more than 80,000 pounds of wood chips.

The accident was reported around 6 p.m., but it wasn’t until just after 10 p.m. that traffic was moving freely again along the southbound side.

Maine State Police Sgt. James Urquhart said the driver of a 2015 GMC Acadia, Arthur Hill of South Portland, will likely face several charges, including causing an accident, failure to yield and driving to endanger. The accident remains under investigation.

State police said it appears that Hill, an employee of the car dealership Bill Dodge Westbrook, was attempting to merge into northbound traffic from Exit 45 when his SUV collided with the side of a pulp truck operated by Michael Esty of Anson. Both men are in their 30s.

The collision pushed the truck, which is owned by Richard Carrier Trucking of Skowhegan, across the median guardrail into the southbound lanes, where it tipped over, causing its load of wood chips to spill onto the roadway.

No one else was involved in the crash and the operators were both treated at the accident scene for minor injuries and released, Urquhart said. Hill’s SUV was destroyed.

A crew will return Wednesday to clean up the wood chips, which were swept to the side of the road, Urquhart said.

Exit 45 is located near the Maine Mall in South Portland.

Both southbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike had to be closed to traffic for about 30 minutes after the crash, causing a traffic backup that stretched for about 6 miles, Urquhart said. Eventually, one southbound lane was opened but traffic moved slowly throughout the evening.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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