LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Traffic through downtown Los Angeles ground to a complete stop for hours as authorities tried to coax a man down from a sign on the Mission Road overpass over the 101 Freeway.

The man was first spotted standing on or near a sign above the southbound freeway lanes after 2 p.m., just as the Thursday evening traffic rush was getting underway. The California Highway Patrol eventually shut down the freeway in both directions to allow firefighters to inflate airbags below the signs, in case he fell.

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Both sides of the 101 Freeway bottlenecked for nearly four hours, with drivers left with no place to go. Reporter Dave Lopez was able to walk on to freeway lanes and talk to two women who said they had been sitting in their SUV for two-and-a-half hours after visiting Disneyland.

“We were like, ‘let’s leave early so we beat traffic!’” one of the women said with an ironic laugh.

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The man finally agreed to come down close to 6 p.m. and was taken into protective custody.