An accident on Interstate 70 near Cloverdale Wednesday morning closed the highway and congested traffic in Brazil.
According to information provided by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, shortly after 10:30 a.m., a pickup truck with a flatbed trailer carrying a backhoe jack-knifed for unknown reasons near the 40-mile marker. No injuries were reported at the scene, but officials confirmed the wreckage spewed across both lanes of westbound traffic.
Officials closed the road while the wreckage was cleared and rerouted westbound traffic off of the I-70 exit 41 and north to U.S. 40.
Although the interstate was reopened at approximately 12:49 p.m., it took a while for the traffic to clear.
At the height of the traffic congestion around 1:30-2 p.m., it was backed up along the west-bound lane of U.S. 40 from just west of the Putnam Clay County line, near Great Dane Trailers, to the intersection of State Road 59 in Brazil.
As interstate motorists worked their way back to I-70 driving through Brazil, the congestion at the intersection of U.S. 40 and State Road 59 became overwhelming.
As local residents scrambled to find shortcuts in an effort to avoid using the highway that doubles as Brazil's main street, frustrated law enforcement officers tried to control traffic.
With several semi drivers disregarding officers' orders and traffic barricades, Brazil City Police Captain Dave Archer said officers starting writing traffic citations.
"Once we wrote the tickets, the rest of the drivers just fell in line afterwards," Archer said. "It was a crazy day."
In an attempt to try and move traffic flow out of the center of Brazil, the stoplights west of the U.S. 40 and S.R. 59 intersection were set to blink with yellow caution-lights.
"The idea was to give motorists who came to the intersection the option of quickly leaving town, going west so they could get on I-70 at the S.R. 46 exit," Archer said, although most of the motorists turned south on S.R. 59.
Turning south created a problem for authorities. Archer said the close proximity of the second stop light at the intersection of S.R. 59 and Jackson streets made it difficult to keep traffic moving.
"Drivers would turn south, the stoplight (at Jackson street) would change and then traffic would back up in the turn lane," he said. "We then had vehicles blocking traffic on U.S. 40 waiting to turn south."
Several officers from the city police and the Clay County Sheriff's Department worked traffic duty until shortly after 3 p.m.
"I'd really like to thank Sheriff Mike Heaton and several of the deputies that came out and helped monitor traffic. It was a great team effort," Archer said. "It's always aggravating when I-70 shuts down and we get all the traffic through the center of town. But, all in all, I think the officers and local citizens worked really well together under the circumstances."