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Florida Turnpike Re-Opens After Traffic Nightmare For Morning Commute

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - An overnight closure on the Florida Turnpike Extension turned into a traffic nightmare Wednesday morning for thousands of drivers.

The Florida Department of Transportation said the closure of all lanes near SW 8th Street was necessary to safely remove an overhead sign structure that spans both directions.

The closure was supposed to end at 5 a.m. but workers encountered a problem. The FDOT said complications arose and safety precautions prevailed so the closure was extended.

The complication here was not having the right crane for the job, according to FDOT spokesman Chad Huff.

"A larger crane was brought in to help. Once it was brought in, we cleared traffic as soon as we could," he said.

The northbound lanes were re-opened at 10 a.m., the southbound lanes about 45 minutes later.

Drivers who were stuck on the Turnpike, and forced to exit at SW 8th Street, were told to expect two-hour delays.

"Two hours and 45 minutes, that's crazy," said driver Robert Plaza.

"I leave the house early, I've been here for about three hours now," driver Sergio Herrera told CBS4's Rielle Creighton

Drivers caught up in the massive delays expressed disbelief, frustration, and anger after sitting in traffic for three to four hours.

"It was torture, I gotta go to the bathroom," said Herrera. "I'm running low on gas, so not a good morning.

"We missed our flight, unbelievable," said Gwendolyn Coakley who was headed to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. "I guess it's for the best for our safety but I mean they should have said something last night."

FDOT began the removal of the sign and structure during a Monday night closure. They said they had to take it down because it was unsafe to allow vehicles to travel under it.

Huff said the FDOT apologizes to all those drivers who were inconvenienced.

"Getting the public where they need to be is our top duty. We fell short and we are sorry, but it's best to err on the
side of caution," he said.

The sign removal and replacement is a part of a widening project on the Turnpike.

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