DESERT CENTER, Calif. — A 50 mile-stretch of a vital California interstate linking Los Angeles and Phoenix partly reopened Friday after flash flooding damaged several bridges last weekend.
Traffic began moving again on the desert section of Interstate 10 where a surge of storm water barreling down a gully Sunday carved away the soil under concrete bridge supports. The eastbound span buckled into the gully and a driver was seriously injured.
The reopening is welcome news for travelers and truckers, but traffic bottlenecks will remain.
The California Department of Transportation said delays as long as half an hour can be expected at peak travel times, including Friday evenings and late Sunday afternoons.
Construction crews labored around the clock to meet an aggressive timetable for shoring up the westbound span over Tex Wash. One of its two lanes is being used for traffic heading toward Arizona until the eastbound span is rebuilt.
The workers have focused on pouring concrete and adding flood protection boulders.
The damaged bridges crossed gullies that became swollen with rain when an unusually strong summer storm dumped up to 7 inches in the area near Desert Center, about 50 miles west of California’s border with Arizona.