At 4:59 pm Bricker Transport, of Laredo, Texas began a brief, but unwelcome, visit to Clarke County, Virginia.
That’s when a truck belonging to the company hauling a huge tank labelled “MARS” (Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport) crested Snickers Gap trailing a four mile traffic jam. By 5:15pm the load had only reached the western end of the Shenandoah River bridge.
The vehicle was both preceded and followed by vehicles with “Wide Load” warning banners and amber caution lights. While drivers stuck in the traffic jam probably appreciated the presence of the safety equipment, most surely would have preferred a warning that their evening commute was going to be extended by nearly an hour.
One driver caught in the traffic backup and reached by phone on her way to Strasburg, Virginia to close on a home purchase expressed frustration. “Why is this being allowed at rush hour? the exasperated driver lamented. “I’m never going to make it to my appointment!”
A call to Clarke County Central Dispatch revealed that the Sheriff’s Department had not been alerted that the load would be passing through Clarke County. The Sheriff’s Department dispatcher said that hazardous load violations were handled by the Virginia State Police. It was not clear if the Sheriff’s Department intended to refer the matter to the State Police or not.
The traffic interruption is the second to jam a Clarke County rush hour in less than a month. On July 6 a wide load caravan attempting to cross Snickers Gap came to a halt just east of the Shenandoah River on Route 7 near Rt. 643. The eastbound lane of traffic was closed all day causing significant backups for motorists.
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