Blown fuse in signal snarls traffic

PARKERSBURG – Firefighters directed traffic at the intersection of Ohio Avenue and the Memorial Bridge approach while electricity to the traffic lights was out for over an hour due to a blown fuse at the start of the Labor Day weekend, officials said Friday.

The electricity went out at the intersection of Ohio Avenue and the Memorial Bridge approach at 4:42 p.m., said Allen Staggers, spokesman for MonPower. Power was restored to the intersection at 5:57 p.m., Staggers said.

According to reports from the Parkersburg Police Department in early August, the Ohio Avenue and Memorial Bridge approach intersection was the second-most dangerous intersection in Parkersburg from July 2013 to June 2014.

There were no accidents due to the power interruption on Friday evening, thanks to people taking their time and being polite until traffic guidance arrived, officials said.

Aside from the light, there were seven nearby homes without power, Staggers said.

The outage was believed to have been caused by a motorist lightly impacting a utility pole near the Memorial Bridge, Staggers said.

The utility pole was discovered to be splintered and damaged, Staggers said.

“We suspect someone brushed the pole with a car or truck, splintering it, and that knocked the power out,” Staggers said.

The resulting impact is believed to have shaken the wires attached to the pole “just enough” to cause them to touch, which blew the fuse on the line, Staggers said.

MonPower crews replaced the fuse and power was restored to the intersection shortly before 6 p.m., Staggers said.

More than 100 concerned motorists called in the power outage to the stoplight, according to 911 Center reports.

Parkersburg Public Works Director Rick Lemley arrived at the scene around 5:15 p.m. because he happened to be in the area, he said. He was hoping to encounter a problem which could be fixed easily and without assistance from MonPower, he said

Lemley determined the problem was not confined to the control panel for the intersection after inspecting the panel.

“I used to do this for a living,” Lemley said, motioning to the open control box. “The problem is not in the controls; we don’t even have power to the control panel itself,” he said.

Parkersburg Police officers initially responded to the intersection to direct traffic, but had to clear the scene at 5:29 due to a large volume of crime complaints which required attention, the 911 Center reported.

The Parkersburg Fire Department relieved the police officers and directed traffic until the electricity was restored, the 911 Center said.

There were no accidents reported at the intersection during the outage, Lemley said.

“Everyone was taking turns and was pretty decent with one another,” Lemley said.

Original estimates for repair said MonPower crews would be between 60-90 minutes to arrive at the scene, but a truck responded at the 45-minute mark, Lemley said.