I was knocked off the news yesterday by a 2 x 4, dozens of them actually, strewn across one of the busiest stretches of highway in Connecticut. It’s the first time in 25 years in this business that I can recall missing the news because I was stuck in traffic. A truck driver dumped a load of wood all over the south bound lanes of Interstate 91, just south of downtown near the Brainard Airport exit. It happened moments before I approached the scene. It was about 2:40, and I encountered a big backup with no exit to get off. I ended up turning off the car and like so many frustrated drivers I got out of the car trying to see what was causing our delay.
Through e-mails from WFSB, I was told the cleanup was going to take four hours! Producers decided to have me call in from the backup, a type of report we call a “phoner.” For me, it was an inconvenience, but as I glanced around the gridlock, I looked at the hundreds of people whose plans were changed by one driving mistake. School bus drivers and parents unable to pick up students at school. Children perhaps upset over their missing bus or seriously tardy mom or dad. Teachers who might have stay three hours late to keep an eye on those children. Other drivers no doubt missed appointments or maybe the train in New Haven. Most importantly, I noticed am ambulance with its sirens wailing, unable to get through what had become a parking lot.
Just before 5 pm traffic started to move at a slow crawl, then stopped again. At about 5:25 the mess was cleaned and we all broke free. I pulled into WFSB at 5:36, in time for the 6pm news.
What caused it? I drive this road to and from work, and based on my daily observations, I’m going to guess someone was driving too fast. Here’s what I want to know:
1. Did the truck driver go too fast?
2. Was the load of wood properly loaded?
3. Did another fast driver cut the truck off?
4. Was there a problem with the road?
Kudos to David Owens of the Hartford Courant for some clever coverage of the rush hour nightmare. On a fun play on Channel 3’s popular winter storm naming tradition, Owens named the traffic jam after me, and proceeded to send out some classic tweets.