The truck, which was traveling north near the Salem Welcome Center near Exit 1, jackknifed at about 4 a.m., sliding out of control and coming to a stop, straddling the median, according to Salem police Deputy Chief William Ganley.
"We notified state police and we ended up having four cruisers out there at one point to assist," Ganley said.
Emergency workers had to use specially designed air bags to right the tractor-trailer truck, and weren't able to tow the large vehicle away until shortly after 9 a.m., Ganley said.
Most lanes of the highway were closed throughout the morning commute, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton.
"It created some real backups this morning," Boynton said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Immediately after the accident, emergency workers directed the early-morning traffic along the narrow breakdown lanes, opening more of the highway as the morning went on, Boynton said.
But many officials had limited details about the incident, even hours after it had taken place.
No state police spokesperson could be reached to comment on the accident, neither in the Troop B barracks that handled the accident, nor in the state operations center in Concord, nor in the office of the director of State Police.
State Police Lt. John Lelacheur said he had asked the officer in charge of the accident to call in a report, but the trooper hadn't done that. The trooper in charge of the investigation had finished his shift after the accident, Lelacheur said.
Boynton, of the state Department of Transportation, said he didn't know if the driver of the tractor-trailer truck was injured. Lelacheur didn't know, either.
A representative from the Salem Fire Department, which likely would have transported anyone injured from the scene, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
It also isn't clear whether the slushy, early-morning snowfall contributed to the accident, or if the driver had in some way been impaired, both Boynton and Lelacheur said.
Ganley, of the Salem police, said his department wasn't responsible for taking the driver's name or vehicle information. That was handled by State Police, he said.