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Posted at 8:51 AM ET, 06/23/2010

Tractor-trailer brought down power lines

By Mike McPhate

The shutdown of I-270 during Wednesday morning’s rush hour was caused when a water main break led power lines to sag into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer, authorities said.

The problems began about 2 a.m. when a contractor punctured a hole in a 20-inch water main in the area of Muddy Branch Road and I-270 in Gaithersburg, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokesman John White said. The break loosened ground around a utility pole hoisting several lines across the entire span of the interstate.

Within about an hour, the lines – belonging to several utility companies -- had drooped into the path of a southbound tractor-trailer, officials said.

The backup on the southbound side of the interstate, which is usually congested during the morning rush, quickly stretched for 15 miles from the accident scene, said David Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.

A Pepco spokeswoman, Mary-Beth Hutchinson, said the company was on the scene by about 3 a.m. and removed its line. But others are still draped across the road or being propped up by bucket trucks that took position across the span.

By 8:30 a.m., all lanes had reopened. Officials planned to close the interstate at 10:30 a.m. for between 10 and 15 minutes to allow workers to remove the remaining lines.

-- Mike McPhate

ABC 7 provided scenes from the incident early this morning:

By Mike McPhate  | June 23, 2010; 8:51 AM ET
Categories:  Maryland, Traffic and Transportation  | Tags:  maryland, traffic  
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The contractor or their insurance company should pay each commuter for the cost of the extra commuting time... There needs to be some accountability for intentionally failing to identify utilitie line locations before digging...

Posted by: iseyij | June 23, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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