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BART Construction Crane Knocks Down Power Lines In Lafayette, Causes Delays On Hwy. 24

LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) -- A crane working on BART tracks clipped power lines, which fell onto Highway 24 in Lafayette, closing down the freeway for about an hour early Monday and forcing intermittent closures for much of the afternoon.

The crane was working on the track rebuilding project when it hit the power lines about 5:22 a.m., according to BART. Traffic on the freeway was halted until lanes were reopened about 6:30 a.m.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

The California Highway Patrol warned motorists of intermittent closures starting at noon Monday for repair work. All lanes except the #1 lane on the eastbound side were reopened around 3:10 p.m., the CHP said.

Downed Power Lines Being Fixed In Lafayette
PG&E crews working to fix the power lines downed by a BART construction crane. The work caused delays on Hwy 24 (CBS)

The afternoon closures occurred for 30 minutes at a time on both directions of the freeway between Oak Hill and Pleasant Hill roads on eastbound 24 and between Pleasant Hill and Acalanes roads on westbound 24.

Detour signs and routes were posted for motorists to follow, for exiting the freeway and returning to it, the CHP said.

The 30-minute temporary closures were repeated, followed by the freeway opening for an hour, before starting the process over until the emergency work is completed.

Motorists were asked to avoid the freeway if possible and find alternate routes, such as Interstate Highway 80 to State Route 4 or Interstate Highway 680 to Interstate Highway.

"I wouldn't get too caught up about it," said Shane Troy, a San Francisco resident delayed in the backlog. "I mean, these things have been known to happen. So, just kind of roll with it."

But Orinda resident Joan Roebuck thinks it didn't have to happen at all. "I think there's been a lot of mismanagement over the last 10 years, would you say?" she said, "and that now we're paying for it in terms of a lot of construction and rehabilitation."

As the work was being done, 115 customers were still without power, including Lafayettes's Whole Foods Store. But at "The Yogurt Shack," owner Ron Coccimiglio jerry-rigged a generator to keep his freezers working.

"We have a lot of perishables," he said, "so instead of losing them all, I kind of set up a McGuyver rig outside, a generator, just because as a small business owner, you don't want to lose a lot of product."

Luckily for him, the operation didn't last too long. PG&E's original prediction was that the work would be completed by 5 p.m., but the freeway closures ended early.

The crane accident knocked out power to the area, with 725 customers initially affected. As of 9:45 a.m., 114 customers were still without power in Lafayette.

During the Labor Day holiday weekend, BART's Measure RR-funded track work was underway and buses instead of BART trains were providing service between Walnut Creek and Orinda.

BART trains are expected to resume normal service and schedules on Tuesday morning, officials said.

BART says it is investigating the accident and the contractors who caused the damage will submit the details of the incident and, once received, they will be passed on to state regulators.

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