A perfect storm of road work, school vacation week and pre-snowstorm shopping backed up traffic at Waterville Commons and Elm Plaza shopping centers for several hours Monday morning and early afternoon.

Travelers on upper Main Street near exit 130 of Interstate 95 reported backups and stopped traffic.

The backup was worst on upper Main Street north of Interstate 95 for traffic traveling into Waterville or trying to get on the highway.

Abby Norling of Norridgewock said around noontime that her daughter, Rebecca, had been waiting in traffic for half an hour with her 2-year-old son Lyle to get onto the highway southbound after a Christmas visit to Norridgewock.

The backup was so bad, “We wondered if it was a fire or an accident,” Norling said.

The Morning Sentinel received several phone calls asking about the traffic Monday morning.

The Waterville Police Department’s Facebook page warned drivers Monday morning that Summit Natural Gas was working on the intersection of Main Street, Armory Road and Elm Plaza, just east of the highway and a little past Waterville Commons, the entrance to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and several other stores and restaurants. Elm Plaza, which opens up onto Main Street, has a Hannaford supermarket, K Mart and several small stores.

The post, at 11 a.m., said, “Traffic is backed up in all directions at this time.”

The gas line work was supposed to be done the night before, but “due to some unforeseen circumstances, it took longer than expected.

“We were hoping to finish the project by 7 a.m., but as occasionally happens the project took longer than anticipated,” said Lizzy Reinholt, Summit spokeswoman. “Our top priority was finishing before the storm came in, and we were glad we were able to complete the work by this afternoon.”

Police on Facebook asked for drivers’ “patience as the job is being extended in an effort to complete it before the bad weather hits tomorrow.”

Commenters on the Facebook post said there were still problems in the early afternoon.

“The other lights leading up to this intersection are a disaster,” one commenter, with Hilary DK, wrote. “There are folks blocking intersections. There need to be more folks helping to guide traffic, or folks should avoid this area altogether.”

“It’s 1:40. The highway is in sight, but the traffic isn’t moving,” posted Michelle El.

April Kara later posted, “It’s 3 p.m. and still backed up bad. I’m guessing it will take me close to an hour to get out of Wal-Mart.”

The backup was smaller though similar to one in May 2014 that was caused when a heavy rainstorm washed out paving work on Waterville Commons Drive. That jam kept many shoppers gridlocked for hours in the shopping area, which has one entrance onto Main Street, and raised issues of emergency vehicle access in the area.

The traffic issues had cleared up by 4 p.m.

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