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Wilson Bridge trouble stops Sunday morning traffic

Sunday - 7/21/2013, 9:03am  ET

WASHINGTON - A problem with the safety barriers on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge caused drivers to sit on the span for more than half an hour Sunday morning.

The bridge was scheduled to open at 7 a.m. for a passing Navy vessel, but never did.

Traffic was stopped and the traffic gates were lowered on the bridge shortly after 7 a.m., as the ship slowly approached the bridge. But because the safety barriers, designed to stop a car from driving onto the bridge, would not lock into place the bridge never opened, says a spokeswoman with the Maryland Department of Transportation.

During the hold-up, several cars on the Outer Loop attempted to turn around on the approach to the bridge, on Interstate 495, says Virginia State Police.

Police say they stopped several cars who were cited for going the wrong way on the Beltway.

The bridge was originally planned to open at 7:30 a.m., but that changed shortly before 7 a.m.

Traffic on the bridge was released a little after 7:30 a.m.

At 7:45 a.m., it was clear the ship had safely passed under the bridge, with 15 feet to spare because of low tide.

Mechanics are investigating to see what happened to the safety barriers.

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