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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- One person's bad day can cause a ripple effect and enrage commuters. It's what happened Tuesday night on the Key Bridge.

Police coaxed the person who threatened to jump off the bridge, to come down.

By then drivers were stuck in traffic for hours.

Constantine Dixon said, "This is a notorious choke point."

But add on closing a bridge and you've got a major disruption.

Constantine Dixon ended up getting off the Metro Bus and walking home.

"It goes to show you a horrific thing can paralyze the city for hours and hours."

Edourdo Rincon left his running store to direct traffic because he didn't see anyone doing it initially.

"It was so bad people were standing still for an hour," he said.

Traffic took even longer to clear. After a three-hour ordeal at the peak of rush hour, police finally talked the man off the bridge but the damage was done.

John Lisle, DDOT spokesperson, said, "It doesn't take long for traffic to get backed up."

DDOT and law enforcement can help by changing the signal timing and directing traffic once they can make their way, which causes choke points on other highways, but in the end DDOT says there's no easy fix.

Some motorists wonder how to prevent these types of traffic nightmares.

A decade ago, a tobacco farmer held a two-day standoff after driving his tractor onto the National Mall.

And in 1998 traffic came to a standstill on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge until D.C. police shot the man in the leg with a bean bag.


250 thousand drivers travel on that bridge daily that's 5 times as many drivers than the Key Bridge.

Lisle said, "I'm not sure if there is a way to prevent the aftermath of something like that."

DDOT practices mock drills and fine tunes its evacuation methods.
Lisle says for example, drills are practiced on July 4th called 'Operation Fast Forward' in which they get the motorists away from the National Mall as quickly as possible. That includes changing signal lights and using mobile messages.

It's important to know that alternative route ahead of time.

Metropolitan Police say their first priority is to preserve life.
Non-lethal force was not used Tuesday night because the person was above the Whitehurst Freeway.
Police use alerts and Twitter to let members of the public know so they can plan alternative routes.

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