MOTORISTS travelling south on the Pacific Hwy encountered a major traffic jam at the Tugun Bypass tunnel about 2.30pm Monday and were forced to wait for two hours before the road was clear.

A Queensland Transport spokesperson said the cause of the jam was a truck driver who attempted to enter the tunnel in a truck which was too heavy, too wide and too high to fit.

South Tweed Towing driver Allen Budge said the driver's failed attempt triggered the tunnel's automatic gate system, stopping the truck about 50m from the tunnel's entrance and blocking all traffic.

The Queensland Transport spokeswoman said the southbound slow lane was closed following the incident and traffic was congested for about 5km.

Mr Budge said the tunnel's automatic system measured the height of approaching trucks and closed the gates if it found a vehicle too high to enter the tunnel without hitting its ceiling.

The ceiling was full of fire sprinklers and lights which could easily be ripped from the tunnel if an over-sized truck entered and ran into the sprinklers.

Mr Budge said this type of accident had already occurred once during the tunnel's short existence and caused significant damage to the tunnel's ceiling.

The system had failed to properly assess the height of an approaching vehicle and allowed it to continue before the truck hit the ceiling and ripped the fire sprinklers and other equipment connected to it, from the tunnel's plafond.

Following Monday's incident, the truck driver was forced to pull to the side of the road  and the truck was escorted through the tunnel at walking pace when it was deemed safe to do.

Mr Budge said the tunnel's height limit was 5.1m and any driver who failed to notice the signs indicating the restriction could not have paid much attention.

Did you get caught in the traffic jam? Leave your comments below.

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