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Rock Creek Parkway reopens

10:04 A.M. UPDATE:

Rock Creek Parkway has reopened after the earlier electrical fire. The Key Bridge, which was also closed, has reopened as well.

9:10 A.M. UPDATE:
The closures of Rock Creek Parkway and a block of Pennsylvania Avenue appear to be reverberating throughout Northwest D.C. and impacting traffic heading downtown this morning. A look at traffic cameras show us parking lots where streets used to be:

- At the intersection of M Street and the Key Bridge, police are guiding a neverending stream of traffic onto the bridge and into Georgetown.
- M Street in Georgetown heading west is pretty backed up, but no more than usual for this time of the morning.
- K Street at 27th Street is gridlocked for people trying to head east into the city on K Street.
- Cars at Pennsylvania Avenue and 28th Street, heading eastbound on Penn, are being forced by police to make U-turns heading back in the opposite direction.
- Connecticut Avenue, southbound at Cathedral Avenue, is at a near-standstill; meanwhile, cars taking Connecticut Avenue north near the Zoo aren't moving much faster.

8:40 A.M. UPDATE:
The closures remain in effect and the Park Police have no idea when they will be lifted, according to Sgt. Schlosser. Not only is Rock Creek Parkway closed in both directions, but the Pennsylvania Avenue overpass atop Rock Creek Parkway (circa the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue) is closed. This will have a "profound traffic impact," according to Schlosser.

As for the cause, they have determined that it is an electrical fire -- cabling in the overpass structure caught fire. They don't know yet if it's Pepco cabling or city cabling, but Schlosser said it didn't appear to impact neighboring buildings and lights. He also said the smoke coming out of the building has died down from earlier this morning. And as for the closures, Rock Creek's morning switch -- wherein all traffic heads southbound until 9:30 a.m. -- will still be in effect in the unlikely event closures are lifted before 9:30 a.m. In the much more likely case that the closures aren't lifted until well after 9:30 a.m., Rock Creek will revert back to the normal north/south split.

7:55 A.M. UPDATE:
No new information at this moment about the dead body found this morning. No new information about the cabling issues in the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge over the parkway -- Pepco is still trying to figure out the cause of the fire, and the District Fire Department is on the scene, according to the Park Police.

7:25 A.M. UPDATE:
A dead body was found not far from the Pennsylvania Avenue overpass, but this is "absolutely unrelated" to the issue that closed Rock Creek Parkway, said U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser. They believe units in the area found the body on Rock Creek just north of Pennsylvania Avenue, he said.

Meanwhile, on the traffic-related front: the issue this morning related to the cabling of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge over Rock Creek Parkway. There was a fire in there, so Pepco and firefighters are on the scene, Schlosser said. The firefighters will make sure the fire is out and then Pepco will deal with the cable issue.

7:10 A.M. UPDATE:
The Park Police are now reporting that the closures are due to the smell of fire coming from the Pennsylvania Avenue overpass structure on Rock Creek Parkway. The earlier story of downed wires catching fire is something they heard initially and reported, but that's not the case, a sergeant with the Park Police said. They believe the closures will last through the morning rush.

Rock Creek Parkway southbound is closed from the start of the parkway down through the Pennsylvania Avenue exit. (Until 9:30 a.m., all traffic on the parkway is southbound anyway, so it's essentially closed.) So again, if you need to get onto the parkway southbound (for example, to head to Virginia), you can still get onto it by heading into Georgetown and getting on at K Street.

ORIGINAL POST:
Rock Creek Parkway is closed in both directions due to downed wires that caught fire at the parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Park Police reported. They are just arriving on the scene (shortly before 6:25 a.m.) and have no timetable on when it will reopen, but multiple entrance points onto the parkway heading in both directions are closed off.

A driver on the parkway this morning reported heading southbound and hitting standstill traffic just south of P Street at 6:20 a.m. This wound up being due to a police officer turning around traffic and not letting any cars get south of P Street. Cars were diverted northbound, with many taking the immediate exit onto P Street. That exit has since been closed. The same driver also reported that at the K Street entrance to Rock Creek southbound (in Georgetown, right near the waterfront), cars could still get onto the southbound lanes as of 6:35 a.m. The northbound lanes were blocked at the Virginia Avenue light.

If this is your commute this morning, plan for another route.

By Mark Berman  |  January 7, 2010; 6:35 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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