Fatal NJ Turnpike Crash Halts Traffic For Thousands Of Drivers - FOX 35 News Orlando

Fatal NJ Turnpike Crash Halts Traffic For Thousands Of Drivers

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Robbinsville, NJ -

For thousands of drivers, it was a traffic nightmare Wednesday in Mercer County.

Ambulances, fire engines and construction equipment all jockeyed for position across the

southbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike near exit 7A, after a deadly crash.

The accident shut down both directions of traffic on the turnpike for five long hours.

It's a sight you rarely ever see on the Turnpike: cars, trucks and big rigs making a U-turn, one by one, from the southbound lanes to the northbound side.

Crews had to remove a barrier between the two directions of traffic, to ease the massive backup that stretched for miles.

And the impact didn't stop there.

Joe Dee, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation, told Fox 29 that transportation officials as far north as Connecticut were urged to warn drivers to avoid the turnpike.

Up above the turnpike on Robbinsville-Allentown Road in Robbinsville, motorists were only slightly less frustrated than the drivers on the turnpike.

Many sat in traffic for hours.

The accident, which happened just before 10 a.m., is still under investigation. A dump truck had lost control, landed on its side, and caught fire under the Interstate 195 overpass, killing the driver. NJ DOT Spokesman Joe Dee says it's not clear yet whether a road-widening project on that stretch of turnpike played a role in the accident.

The fire damaged the overpass, forcing transportation officials to shut down traffic on I-195 as well. By 3 o'clock, the eastbound lanes reopened again. And so did the turnpike in both directions, a full five hours after motorists came to a grinding halt. But southbound traffic still crawled through only one open lane.

And the hangover lingered on just about every other major roadway in the vicinity.

Interstate 195 is a critically important east-west roadway for state workers in Trenton, who commute from shore towns. By 3 o'clock, crews managed to re-open both eastbound lanes, but the westbound lanes remained closed.

Engineers are trying to figure out how badly the fire damaged the bridge-- and will have to shut down traffic again once the afternoon commute is over. State transportation officials still aren't sure which lanes might be open in time for Thursday's morning commute.

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