Maryland State Police said that “thru lanes” remained closed across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge due to the cleanup by hazmat crews, but traffic began squeezing through one right lane.
Titanic-sized traffic jams clogged Washington area roads much of the day Wednesday, following a fatal accident on the Wilson Bridge, and the congestion continued throughout the evening commute and into the night.
Virginia State Police said that backups on the Capital Beltway extended from the Wilson Bridge to the Springfield Interchange, and angry motorists said that all major roadways faced delays.
Alexandria police said the city was jammed from Route 1 and Washington Street corridors heading north and south, to Duke Street headed east and west.
“Traffic is NASTY out there tonight folks, likely due to residual issues on 495,” the police department tweeted about 5 p.m.
Two hours later, Alexandria police advised drivers to find a parking spot and wait out the gridlock.
“If you are tired, hungry or frustrated — take a break. Park your car & take a breather, go get dinner, stretch your legs. Don’t drive yourself mad in traffic you can’t control,” a second tweet said.
Many of the delays appeared to be a result of a day-long effort to investigate and clear a fatal crash on the bridge, which spans the Potomac River.
The driver of a tractor-trailer died after his truck hit several construction vehicles and caused three vehicles to catch fire about 11 a.m. and closure of the Capital Beltway in both directions.
By the evening, downtown Washington traffic crawled across bridges into the city and clogged 14th Street, Constitution Avenue and other commuter arteries.
About 8 p.m., WTOP Traffic reported that the accident still blocked thru lanes on the Beltway’s Outer Loop on the bridge.
Maryland State Police reported inner loop backups from rubbernecking drivers that stretched from the bridge to Branch Avenue.
State police said that hazmat crews were cleaning up the remaining wreckage around 8 p.m., and authorities expected to reopen all lanes when that work completed.