CHP to close I-8 again after power line mishap

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- Utility crews worked for hours Wednesday to replace downed power lines on Interstate 8 in El Cajon, resulting in multiple freeway closures and miles of backed-up traffic on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

The California Highway Patrol plans to close the freeway again at midnight so utility crews can work to replace the lines downed by a tractor- trailer's high-profile load, according to SDG&E.

A SigAlert remained in effect Wednesday afternoon as traffic on the freeway slowly thinned. Crews planned to remain on scene making repairs throughout the day, according to SDG&E, which estimates that the next closure could last up to two hours.

A large water tank being towed behind a big rig snagged on wires over the eastbound lanes near North Second Street around 1:20 a.m. and left a few power poles snapped in half, CHP Officer Kevin Pearlstein said.

The snafu caused a power outage affecting around 4,100 customers in El Cajon, according to SDG&E. As of 1 p.m., power had been restored to all but three of the affected customers, and the utility doesn't anticipate any additional outages will repairs are underway.

The big rig was hauling equipment for the U.S. Department of Energy, Fox 5 reported.

Part of Interstate 8 was closed twice Wednesday morning, with the first full closure from 8:30 until about 10 a.m., and the second from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Greenfield Drive, according to the CHP.

All freeway lanes in both directions were closed at Second Street so SDG&E crews could remove the broken poles, according to Caltrans and the CHP.

During the shutdowns, eastbound traffic will exit the freeway at Second Street, head north onto Greenfield Drive then back onto the interstate. Westbound motorists can exit at Greenfield Drive then take Second Street to the freeway, or take Lake Jennings Park Road to state Route 67, then head toward Interstate 8 or state Route 52.

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