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Item that caused Phoenix freeway closures found to be a traffic counter

PHOENIX — A suspicious item caused the closure of three freeways in downtown Phoenix during rush hour on Wednesday, but it was found to be a traffic counter placed there by a government contractor.

Interstate 10 westbound and State Route 51 southbound at Loop 202 westbound were closed at the mini-stack interchange, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Raul Garcia told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the package found alongside a traffic pole near Interstate 10 and 16th Street was a traffic counter and was not a threat.

The Maricopa Association of Governments said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that an ADOT maintenance worker reported the traffic counter, which was placed there Tuesday morning by a contractor working for the association.

“MAG believes the contractor followed all of the appropriate permitting processes. We are looking at the chain of events to determine how the misunderstanding may have occurred,” Eric Anderson, the association’s executive director, said in the statement.

“All of the agencies involved are committed to ensuring this regrettable situation is never repeated. We apologize to all of the motorists who were inconvenienced by the freeway closures.”

MAG, which is responsible for the region’s transportation planning, said it routinely works with a contractor to conduct traffic counts every two to four years.

The closure was in place around 7 a.m. and lifted before 9 a.m.

Get the latest KTAR News 92.3 FM traffic alerts sent straight to your phone by texting “TRAFFIC” to 411923.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report. 

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