It took just one semi accident to back up traffic on Route 61 in Muhlenberg Township for more than seven hours Friday afternoon.
Stack after stack of mail lined the on ramp from Route 61 south to Route 222 south. Police say a semi truck was traveling down the ramp when the load shifted causing the truck to flip over and spill thousands of pounds of mail.
"We had three witnesses remain on scene that said that speed was not a factor. It is just as you can see we have 30,000 pounds of US Postal Service Mail and it does not stack very well," said Muhlenberg Township Police Officer Wayne Moreland.
From that moment, emergency crews were called in to shut down the ramp. But Route 61, which already has a significant amount of congestion because of construction, got even worse.
"Hectic," said Dick East with Fire Police.
Dick East typically works an hour or two to direct traffic during an accident. But he started at 12:30 in the afternoon and was still there six hours later. At one point traffic stretched 2.5 miles back to the Sheetz in Leesport. He says drivers handled the backup as best they could.
"Your norm. Some are alright with it. Others are complaining," said East.
While East was diverting traffic from the ramp, crews worked until 7 p.m. to clear the scene.
"V&M Towing attempted to flip it back over and the trailer actually started coming apart. So in lieu of losing all the mail, they decided to hand unload it," said Moreland.
The driver was not injured in the accident.
Police tell us the mail was traveling from Hamburg to York. They say the company has to take the mail back to Hamburg to re-sort it before it can be re-shipped. But police were not sure what kind of delay this will cause.