An embankment below an A7 motorway construction site gave way between the Göttingen-Nord and Nörten-Hardenberg exits on Monday, forcing its closure until Tuesday afternoon.
Police had all but given up their attempts to direct traffic around the city until then because the gridlock was so extensive.
“Göttingen is suffocating in traffic,” a police spokesperson said on Tuesday morning, adding that with no cars moving, there was “nothing left to direct.”
Officials were finally able to reopen the stretch of road on Tuesday afternoon, but traffic was not expected to normalise for some time due to the sheer volume of build up, they said.
Hundreds of transport trucks, only allowed to travel on major roadways, had gathered along the north-bound A7 lanes and the associated detours with nowhere to go. Rest stops and all around Göttingen became “the biggest truck lot in Germany,” according to the police spokesman.
On Tuesday morning police were able to temporarily open a detour to the Nordheim-West junction, but they had also urgently encouraged drivers to avoid the area and to consider taking a train instead.
The landslide, which pushed dirt under the autobahn into a seven-metre-deep excavation pit, was likely caused by heavy rains on Sunday evening. Highway workers worked throughout Monday night trying to replace the dirt, but repairs are expected to take until at least Tuesday evening.
The A7 motorway is Germany’s longest autobahn, bisecting the country almost equally between east and west from the Danish border in the north to Austrian border in the south.