Commuting nightmare: Cleanup continues after New Jersey truck crash

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The crash of a DPW garbage truck in New Jersey Wednesday caused massive traffic backups on the eve of July 4th, and the cleanup effort continued into the holiday.

It was hard work in sweltering heat, but most people were just happy no one was more seriously injured. The investigation into the crash is also ongoing, with officials saying possibly failed brakes caused it to smash through the barrier of an overpass and onto I-495.

"It looked like an action movie," said Nick Frato, who was one of thousands of people caught up in the gridlock. "It was crazy."

With the outbound Lincoln Tunnel closed, cars were being diverted to the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge, causing gridlock on Manhattan's West Side that lasted several hours.

There was at least a four-hour backup as drivers headed south in Manhattan trying to get to the Holland Tunnel, with traffic backed up all the way to Times Square.

Ninth Avenue and Eleventh Avenue resembled parking lots for thousands of drivers who had nowhere to go.

Electronic signs pointing the way to the Lincoln Tunnel never changed for hours during the ordeal, though many drivers did not realize the entrance was closed.

"It was like three hours," Frato said. "We were coming out of the city going through Lincoln Tunnel, it was still 9 or 10 at night, it just kept going and going. It was awful."

Traffic was also bumper to bumper on the West Side Highway as many tried to get to the GWB.

NewsCopter7 reporter Shannon Sohn said it was one of the worst traffic nightmares she had seen in 23 years of reporting for Channel 7.

In addition to all the cars at a standstill, the Port Authority Bus Terminal closed down because outbound buses couldn't leave -- so mass transit commuters headed to an overcrowded Penn Station to get trains.

The crash sent 12 people to the hospital, but amazingly, no one suffered life-threatening injuries.

Cleanup crews remained on the scene, and green netting replaced the gaping hole in the wall of the overpass while debris -- including a light post -- remains scattered.

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