An eastbound freeway bridge that collapsed during a summer rainstorm, forcing a five-day full closure of Interstate 10 in Desert Center, was reopened to traffic Thursday — a week earlier than expected.
Caltrans officials had scheduled a ceremony for next Wednesday to unveil the new span. But completion of the $5 million Tex Wash Bridge emergency repair project progressed more briskly than anticipated.
One of the two lanes was reopened this morning, and crews were putting the finishing touches on the second lane, which was expected to reopen late this afternoon.
“Interstate 10 is a major goods movement artery and a critical lifeline for residents in the desert,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. “Caltrans has restored roads severely affected by the harsh force of nature before, and we’ll do it again. This is what we do best.”
A 30-foot section of bridge collapsed July 19, cutting off the primary route for motorists traveling between California and Arizona. The 10 Freeway was closed between state Route 86 and the Arizona state line.
Granite Construction Inc. was awarded an emergency contract to get traffic moving again. The westbound side of the bridge was reopened July 24, with one lane of traffic in each direction.
With traffic moving again, crews turned their attention to rebuilding the eastbound bridge and restoring Interstate 10 to full capacity. The project required the complete demolition of the existing eastbound bridge, and entailed the placement of rock slope protection in the channel below and rebuilding the bridge in an accelerated fashion.
During the roadwork, traffic speeds in the area were reduced to 45 mph.
On July 23, federal officials announced the availability of $2 million in funding to help cover costs associated with the rebuilding.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted then that “about 20,000 drivers use this bridge each day, traveling between Arizona and California,” calling it “a critical piece of infrastructure for the people in both states.”
The funds were provided through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program.
Repairs were also made on two other bridges on the freeway — Adair Ditch Bridge and Hillock Ditch Bridge — that were found to be in need of upgrades.