It began at 10:30 a.m. the other day on the New Jersey Turnpike, an unpleasant thoroughfare even in the best of times.
A dump truck traveling southbound hit an overpass support column. The truck fell over sideways and burst into flame, killing the driver and giving off smoke plumes that were observed for miles around.
Gas and power lines were knocked loose by the truck's impact and hung down over the freeway, which was closed in both directions. Thirty-five industrial companies located near the overpass lost electrical power.
Drivers streamed off every exit and onto secondary roads, which also became jammed, leading to ancillary smashes.
After four hours, engineers determined that the fire had not compromised the overpass structure, and it was reopened.
In the interim period, a 21-mile backup of stopped cars and trucks had developed on the pike. Temperatures were in the low 90s with a good bit of humidity to make impatient drivers even more uncomfortable.
Tweets and news quotes:
"Hour 4 of unknown on NJ turnpike: Butt is numb, out of water,
and not a rest area in sight. Pray for my soul."
"Avoid the NJ Turnpike at all costs. Seriously, I've moved
three miles in 1 1/2 hours."
“I’ve been in the car now for about an hour and a half for what should
normally be a 40 minute ride, and I still have probably a good couple of
hours before I get home.”
Almost 12 hours later, at 10:15 p.m., traffic was moving normally again.
Fortunately, people in New Jersey know how to make lemonade.