Crews with Granite Construction Inc. are hard at work on repairs to the Interstate 10 bridge washed out in July during heavy rains caused by Hurricane Dolores.
“This flooding came up over the highway with mud, boulders and rock,” said Terri Kasinga, spokeswoman for California Department of Transportation (Caltran). “It washed away one of the abutments and took out the east side of the span. On the west side there is severe undermining. Our commitment and goal is to finish the repairs by the end of September. But we are up against some weather issues, of course, with any continuing monsoons. There are more predicted. They won’t be hurricane type like before, but any type of severe weather could delay the work. Right now the estimate for the contract is between $5 and $8 million.”
The Federal Government also announced it would make available $2 million in emergency relief funds for the Tex Wash Bridge restoration.
Temporary repairs have allowed Caltran to reopen one lane in each direction on the bridge, effective July 24.
“That effort took 1,400 truckloads of fill dirt and 2,500 tons of asphalt concrete to construct temporary crossover lane,” Kasinga said. “We moved one eastbound lane to westbound. So now there is one lane open in each direction. Right now the work that has been done is estimated at $5 million. There still will be additional charges for rebuilding the eastbound direction. We’re estimating that will be about $1.5 to $3 million.”
Because of the severe damage, Caltran crews are also inspecting other washes in the area.
“In addition to this wash, we have some loss of earth, about 40 feet of undermining two miles east of the Adair Wash,” Kasinga said. “I suspect we might see some damage at some of these other washes, as well. “We haven’t had anything this bad out there on the 10 before,” she said. “We’ve had wash outs and shoulder wash outs. Those can take a few days to a week or two to repair, but there hasn’t been any full closures like this.”
The Tex Wash bridge is about 50 mi. (80 km) from the Arizona border and about 170 mi. (273.6 km) east of Los Angeles. It was built in 1967 and is listed as “functionally obsolete” on the 2013 National Bridge inventory. But Kasinga said the bridge, which sees 27,000 vehicles a day, was not compromised.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a bridge generally becomes functionally obsolete due to changing traffic demands on the structure.
“Facilities, including bridges, are designed to conform to the design standards in place at the time they are designed. Over time, improvements are made to the design requirements. As an example, a bridge designed in the 1930s would have shoulder widths in conformance with the design standards of the 1930s, but current design standards are based on different criteria and require wider bridge shoulders to meet current safety standards. The difference between the required, current-day shoulder width and the 1930s’ designed shoulder width represents a deficiency. The magnitude of these types of deficiencies determines whether a bridge is classified as functionally obsolete.”
One man was injured in the collapse when his vehicle went down with the bridge. He was pinned beneath the wreckage for several hours, and suffered moderate head injuries.
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