Commuters traveling through Fairfax County encountered traffic jams up to three miles long during yesterday's morning rush hour after a truck carrying 30,000 pounds of eggs overturned on the Capital Beltway at I-66.
In what had the makings of the world's largest omelette, and estimated 306,000 eggs were destroyed when the tractor trailer careened out of control about 3 a.m., bouncing down an embankment and crashing into a guardrail.
Police said 38-year-old Charles E. Loggins, who was driving the eggs from Arkansas to a Safeway egg warehouse in Landover, had apparently failed to negotiate the entrance ramp from eastbound Rt. 66 to southbound 495. Loggins suffered minor lacerations in the accident, and was charged with failing to pay full attention to his driving.
As a result of the accident, which left the truck sprawled in a slippery puddle across the four-lane outer loop of the Beltway, all southbound Beltway traffic was rerouted until 8 a.m.
"There was a lot of stuff running out of the trailer," said Gary Meraris, one of the crew of Fairfax County firefighters called out to wash the eggs and some leaking diesel fuel off the highway. "The whole road was covered with the stuff." Highway crews spread sand on the slick, which was estimated to cover about 50 feet of roadway.
Most drivers apparently learned of the accident through radio newscasts and sought alternate routes, swarming onto county highways already filled to capacity with morning commuters.
Bob Marboug, WTOP, radio's airborne traffic reporter, said the Beltway blockage triggered unusual tieups of three to four miles in length on Chain Bridge Road, Arlington Boulevard and Lee Highway, causing many commuters delays of up to 20 minutes.
Rick Milligan, a spokesman for Julian Martin Inc. of Batesville, Ark., owner of the tractor trailer, declined to estimate the extent of damage to the truck and described the accident as "just one of those things."
Milligan said the firm plans an investigation of the incident.