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Crashes close I-81 for hours

December 01, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Several accidents in Washington County on Monday - including two on Interstate 81 that involved four tractor-trailers - snarled traffic for hours and clogged downtown streets as police tried to divert traffic from the crash scenes, police said.

Northbound and southbound lanes were closed after the I-81 crashes, and police were diverting most traffic onto Virginia Avenue and Burhans Boulevard to get motorists onto U.S. 40 so they could get back on I-81, said Sgt. Dave Long of the Hagerstown Police Department.

But many motorists tried taking shortcuts, and thoroughfares like Antietam and Franklin streets got backed up during the day, Long said.

"They were terrible," Long said.

At 7 a.m., two tractor-trailers and a Pontiac Aztec were involved in a crash on I-81 just north of the Halfway Boulevard exit, forcing the closure of the interstate's northbound lanes, police said.

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The two tractor-trailers went about 100 feet down an embankment near a railroad bridge and the Aztec remained along a shoulder of the interstate, said Nick Dattilio, assistant chief of the Halfway Volunteer Fire Co.

Just after 1:30 p.m., about four cars and two tractor-trailers wrecked at the seven-mile marker on I-81, forcing closure of the southbound lanes, according to police and Capt. Travis Keefer of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.

Although Maryland State Police did not have details about the crash, Keefer said it appears the 1:30 p.m. crash might have been the result of a chain reaction.

One of the tractor-trailers was in one pile of wreckage and the second one ended up in a grassy area at the Salem Avenue on-ramp, Keefer said.

There were no major injuries in the wrecks, officials said.

The southbound lanes were reopened at 3:16 p.m. and the northbound lanes were reopened at 4:31 p.m., a Maryland State Police spokeswoman said.

A third accident Monday closed southbound Md. 63 at Interstate 70, police said. One lane reopened by 4:25 p.m., police said.

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