ROXBURY, NJ - Concern about a suspicious vehicle trying to enter Picatinny Arsenal prompted authorities to evacuate the U.S. Army installation and close area roads causing a day-long traffic nightmare in the region. Six hours after the incident began, the matter was deemed a false alarm.
A driver tried to enter the base through the truck gate at 11:30 a.m. but was halted by security guards who "noticed something suspicious with the vehicle," said a statement from the arsenal. It said the Army treated the situation "as if it were an explosive threat" and coordinated its response with local, state and federal agencies.
Employees were told to leave the base at 1:44 p.m. "One individual has been detained by law enforcement officials and is being questioned," said the statement.
Traffic quickly backed up on Route 80 and Route 15 and most local roads, including Berkshire Valley Road into Roxbury, as Route 15 was closed to traffic between Route 80 and Berkshire Valley.
According to police radio transmissions, the road closures were lifted at about 5 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the Picatinny Arsenal public affairs office issued a brief statement saying, "No explosive threat has been found in the vehicle at the truck gate as reported in earlier news releases. While the truck gate will remain closed, normal operations will commence through the front entrance."
The office said gate operations will continue through the Mount Hope gate "for a limited time."