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Autobahn Not So Slick As Ice Halts Traffic

Mon., Dec. 22, 1997

Truckers, holiday travelers and icy weather helped create a marathon traffic jam, clogging the autobahn for nearly 60 miles from Berlin to Poland. By Sunday, some drivers had been trapped in their cars for 48 hours.

The jam started early Friday, when freezing rain slowed truckers driving east from Berlin to Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, the sole border-crossing for trucks to Poland. Police said traffic came to a halt because the customs lane for trucks was not immediately de-iced, and the vehicles filled up the lanes designated for cars.

Adding to the traffic jam later Friday were Germans driving to Poland for inexpensive Christmas shopping and Poles living in Germany who were heading home for the holidays.

By Sunday morning, the vehicles - mostly trucks - were backed up from the border to the southern edge of Berlin, about 56 miles away. The jam started easing Sunday afternoon, police said, with traffic moving slowly and the backup reduced to 25 miles.

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