Officials: washed out I-10 bridge will partially re-open Friday
LOS ANGELES - Despite fears that a bridge washout on Interstate 10 in California would cause massive delays for weeks as traffic was rerouted, officials on Tuesday, July 21, said I-10 would reopen at noon Friday with 1 lane in each direction.
Flooding touched off by unusually intense rainfall of nearly 7 inches Sunday washed away boulders and soil under an elevated portion of Interstate 10 near the town of Desert Center, about 50 miles from the Arizona state line, causing the collapse of the eastbound side of the bridge and severely weakening the westbound side.
One person was hospitalized with broken ribs, a shattered knee and lacerations to his liver, and the main highway between Los Angeles and Phoenix was severed, forcing 54,000 daily vehicles to take a detour.
Prescott resident Tim Tuthill said he was caught up in the bridge collapse aftermath Sunday. He said his detour went through Parker, that it had actually gone "very smoothly, there were no hassles," and the detour added about an hour and twenty minutes to his trip home to Prescott from Palm Springs.
A Phoenix television station reported that detours are taking commercial truckers driving between Phoenix and Los Angeles three and four hours out of their way to avoid the collapsed Tex Wash Bridge.
Arizona Trucking Association president and CEO Tony Bradley says thousands of trucks are now traveling roads not meant to handle the vehicles that passed over the bridge up until Sunday.
The span's rating was a 91.5 out of 100, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. It was deemed "functionally obsolete," a label a Caltrans spokeswoman said reflected not its strength or durability but the fact that its 1967 construction style requires motorists to slow as they approach.
The bridge washed out as rain was falling at a rate of 1.5 inches an hour. A total of 6.7 inches fell Sunday in Desert Center, said National Weather Service forecaster Ken Waters. Showers and thunderstorms in drought-stricken southern and central California set rainfall records in what is usually a dry month.
Reporter Scott Orr contributed to this story.