Downed Lines Tie Up I-270 Traffic for Hours

Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010  |  Updated 10:50 PM EDT
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I-270 Traffic Mess Under Investigation

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I-270 Traffic Mess Under Investigation

I-270 in Gaithersburg was a mess Wednesday after power lines fell into the highway. The Intercounty Connector is looking into whether crews had permission to dig in the area.
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Interstate 270 was shut down in both directions for more than three hours Wednesday from Quince Orchard to Shady Grove (exits 9 and 11) due to downed lines caused by a water main break.

All southbound lanes re-opened at 6:30 a.m. after bucket trucks were called in to lift the downed lines temporarily so traffic could pass.  The northbound lanes finally re-opened at about 7:45 a.m.

What caused the traffic nightmare? 

A WSSC spokesman said that an ICC contractor damaged a 20-inch water main between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. while digging to install signage for tolls related to the new roadway. That was the initial incident that created a domino effect that ultimately led to the closing of one of the biggest traffic arteries in the D.C. region -- just in time for the morning commute.

The water main break led to the sinking of a utility pole.  When it sunk, lines that went across I-270 lowered, and a truck hit the lines and knocked them down, halting traffic in both directions.

The bucket trucks were called in and were used to hold the lines up over the road until a permanent fix could be implemented.

Authorities planned to close the road briefly overnight to pull the lines back across the interstate.

Some tractor-trailers were stuck in the traffic tie-up on the roadway for more than three hours while crews worked to open the interstate.


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