Both sides of Schuylkill Expressway reopen

August 2, 2009 6:04:28 PM PDT
PennDOT has reopened both sides of the Schuylkill Expressway.The Schuylkill Expressway was closed for between 2-and-a-half and 3 hours late Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon. Heavy downpours brought a massive amount of rainwater and debris onto the highway, forcing PennDOT to close I-76 in both directions.

SLIDES: The flooded Schuylkill Expressway
VIDEO: Raw video of the highway as it flooded TRAVEL LINKS:

The problems started shortly before 11 a.m. when officials first had to close the eastbound lanes, just east of the Conshohocken curve, because rainwater gushing off the mountainside had completely covered that side of the highway.

Then, shortly after 11:15 a.m. the floodwaters began getting through the barrier and started flooding the westbound lanes. By 11:30 a.m., cars were not able to get through that section of the highway in the westbound lanes.

At least one driver heading east and one driver heading west became stuck in the floodwaters on the Schuylkill Expressway, but officials tell Action News there were no injuries.

So what do you do when traffic comes to a screeching halt on the Schuylkill and you're stuck there for hours?

Well, you entertain yourself.

Two and a half hours after she was supposed to be at work, Shakira Robinson of Norristown was playing solitaire.

With the Schuylkill closed in both directions, thousands of motorists got out of their cars, stretched their legs and wondered what was going on. Some even played catch to pass the time.

"We noticed something odd when there was no approaching traffic to us. Then we thought 'uh-oh,'" Betsy Torrence of Center Valley, Pennsylvania said.

"It's making me late for work. We've been on the road for 4 hours and now we're not moving at all," Leann Hoff of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania said.

PennDOT began the slow process of scraping off a thick layer of mud that covered the eastbound lanes.

"We're coming back fro the shore. We've got 3 kids in the car and we've been sitting as you know," Damien Drago of Sinking Springs, Pa. said.

Audrey Drago is expecting a fourth baby to add to the three girls she had in the back of the car

"They're doing well, though, all things considered. I'm doing fine. I'm just trying to be patient," Audrey Drago said.

As road crews hustled to clear mud and water from the interstate, moms changed diapers in the backs of cars, teenagers texted, and everyone hoped it would all be over soon.

"My house is flooded right now. I'm not in a real hurry to get back," Ron Roop of Warminster, Pa. said.

"I've lived in Philly my whole life. This is the Schuylkill. You know what it is. It should be no surprise if you have torrential rain," Chris Herman of Gilbertville, Pa. said.

Finally after the expressway was cleared westbound at around 3:00 p.m., traffic began moving again and drivers held hostage by Mother Nature on the Schuylkill were free to resume their travels.

PennDOT reopened the eastbound at about 7:30 p.m.

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