Highway 101 traffic came to a standstill in both directions in Windsor Thursday because of wires hanging dangerously low above the lanes, CHP officials said.

The highway was completely shut down for about an hour following an 11 a.m. crash that knocked down a power pole, causing a bundle of power and phone lines to swoop low over the road, CHP Officer Kerri Post said.

All lanes were opened just after 2 p.m., alleviating traffic backups that stretched miles in both directions.

PG&E crews were expected to return Thursday evening to restring the lines, which will involve roving traffic breaks, Post said.

"That should have minimal impact on traffic," Post said.

The crash occurred at about 11 a.m. on Hembree Lane.

An excavator crashed into a utility pole, shearing off the pole, Post said. An initial report suggested a fire caused the wires to dip, however that was unfounded, she said.

The wires were within potential reach of big rigs and other tall vehicles, forcing the CHP to close all lanes and bringing traffic to a halt for at least 45 minutes.

Stuck in a southbound lane about a quarter-mile north of the wires, Casey Davis, 37, of Santa Rosa said drivers were out of their cars and chatting while they waited for the road to clear.

"I thought it was an accident because we were at a dead stop with nobody moving," Davis said.

Davis was in a car among southbound vehicles that eventually were diverted off the highway at the Central Windsor exit and onto Old Redwood Highway, she said.

Northbound traffic was diverted off the highway at Shiloh Road, Post said.

The CHP opened up one highway lane in each direction just after noon and all lanes were open just after 2 p.m.