The Missouri River bridge at Washington was closed for a short time Wednesday morning because of an electrical problem.

According to Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich, at 4:30 a.m. there was a separation in the conduit that housed electrical wiring for the bridge’s lights.

MoDOT was responsible for following up with an electrician. Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer, said the problem was resolved about 45 minutes after crews arrived and the lights were turned back on.

“The separation caused an exposure of the wire,” Halmich explained. “Rain and snow were blowing into the bare wires, which was causing an electrical arc.”

Halmich said as motorists saw the arc, they would swerve into the other lane of the bridge.

After an investigation, Halmich said the wire was traced to a box maintained by MoDOT.

Because MoDOT officials said they would be unable to get to Washington for several hours and with MoDOT’s permission, the lock was broken and the circuit was shut off.

“We had to eliminate the problem,” Halmich said, adding that keeping the bridge closed would have been a major problem for the school district and others who use the bridge in their morning commute.

The bridge was reopened, without lights, by 5 a.m.

Jessica Wilson, MoDOT customer relations specialist, said the weather shouldn’t have shorted the wires, but was unsure what may have caused the problem.