By Eileen Kelley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Interstate 71 reopened at 2:30 p.m. after a bomb squad disabled an incendiary device that had shut down the highway for about five hours and created traffic headaches for thousands.
The investigation into who made it and why is underway.
The Cincinnati bomb squad disabled the device, with a loud bang, about 12:30 p.m. It had been found about 9:30 a.m. in the grass off the highway near Edwards and Williams roads in Norwood.
The device was homemade, Norwood fire chief Curt Goodman said, though he declined to comment on its contents. It consisted of a clock, gas cans and wiring, WCPO reported.
"It's hard to say if somebody intentionally laid it there," Goodman said. He said he could not say how long it had been there.
Asked if the device might have been placed there to coincide with President Bush's visit to Cincinnati in October, Norwood Police Lt. Tom Williams said, "There's no reason to believe that."
The FBI and the ATF are on the scene, but Norwood police are leading the investigation, Williams said.
South 71 was closed at the Norwood Lateral and North 71 was closed at the Smith-Edwards roads exit. Traffic was backed up several miles in both directions.
"It know it's a tremendous inconvenience, but my main concern was safety," Goodman said.
It was gridlock in Norwood and Hyde Park. Drivers stuck on Madison Road turned down sidestreets looking for a way to get around the jam but had to make U-turns when they saw no way out.
Albertha Reese said she was trying to get home to Pleasant Ridge when she got caught in the traffic jam on Edwards Road about 2 p.m. She thought there had been accident.
"Oh my goodness!" she said when informed of the bomb. She said she had tried to enter I-71 at two different locations but had been turned away.
Several businesses and residences in the area were evacuated, including the Cornerstone Office Building and Gold's Gym.
Several overpasses were inspected before the highway was reopened.
The emergency began when a work crew from the Ohio Department of Transportation found a suspicious object on the ground about 9:30 a.m. and called police.
Goodman praised the ODOT crew who discovered the device and well as the multitude of emergency departments that responded.
"We are really glad they were able to assist us in such a major undertaking," he said.
Ohio bomb squad disables bomb on I-71