Los Angeles Times
I-10 reopens; repairs continue
A stretch of Interstate 10 that had been shut down since Sunday after heavy rain washed out a bridge halfway between Coachella and the Arizona border reopened Friday afternoon.
About 30 feet of the eastbound lanes near Desert Center in Riverside County were destroyed when heavy rain washed away the earth supporting the bridge, triggering a collapse that damaged one truck.
Emergency workers hired by Caltrans worked around the clock all week to support the westbound bridge so that it could accommodate two-way traffic. Just after noon Friday, Caltrans tweeted a video of the first vehicles driving on the opened lanes.
Crews will continue to repair the eastbound side, but officials did not have a completion date.
Two other bridges in the area also needed minor repairs after the storm; those were completed earlier this week, according to Caltrans.
The collapse was about nine miles east of Hell, an almost nonexistent town best known for its name. The closest town with a large population is Blythe, about 50 miles away.
The collapse closed a major shipping route with Arizona and diverted drivers hundreds of miles in some cases. An estimated 24,000 vehicles cross the Arizona border on I-10 every day, many of them big rigs.
Besides the immediate impact of the collapse, the fact that it was caused by a heavy downpour portends the types of hazards that could come from a powerful winter El Niño, weather experts say.
The water that washed out the bridge was from remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores, which broke more than a dozen local rainfall records last weekend.
Experts say warm water in the Pacific allowed Dolores to reach farther north and closer to the coast than it normally would. When the Pacific’s hurricane season peaks in late August and September, Southern California could be in for more of the same, said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service.
Climatologists have forecast a powerful El Niño for the winter, which could overwhelm waterways and trigger mudslides in the region’s fire-scarred mountains.