The driver was initially entrapped but climbed out on his own after his northbound rig went over the divider near the Route 202 exit at Mountainside Avenue at 8:43 a.m. Sept. 8, Mahwah Police Chief Timothy O'Hara said.
He had minor injuries and refused medical attention, the chief said.
Traffic quickly thickened on both sides of Route 17.
All lanes were very briefly closed while the first responding police officers at the scene made sure the driver was OK.
Two northbound lanes and one on the south were quickly reopened. Meanwhile, a state Department of Transportation crew used a front-loader to offload the trash.
"The combination of garbage and diesel fuel spilling is awful," one responder said. "It's a good thing the sun's not out. It already stinks to high heaven."
The driver told police he was traveling in the left lane when he "felt the load shift in the trailer because of what he described as a 'dip' in the temporary lane shift due to construction in the area," O'Hara said.
"We have heard similar accounts from nearly every driver that has crashed in this area," the chief said. "The DOT is aware of this problem and we are working with them for immediate, actionable solutions before this takes a tragic turn."
A wild crash last month sent a trailer flying over the median and crashing into an oncoming SUV in the same area.
Another tractor-trailer driver escaped injury a little over a week before that when a load of wood shifted and his rig slammed into a signpost on northbound Route 17 in the same area.
Mahwah police and firefighters, New Jersey State Police and a Bergen County Hazardous Materials Unit were all almost immediately at the scene of Friday's wreck.
Citywide Towing responded to remove the rig.
"Unfortunately, it's gonna take awhile," a responder said.
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