Bridge collapse shuts down major California freeway after record-breaking July rain

A bridge collapsed Sunday at the eastbound Interstate 10 and Eagle Mountain Road in Desert Center, trapping a truck beneath the debris. (KMIR)

A bridge collapsed Sunday at the eastbound Interstate 10 and Eagle Mountain Road in Desert Center, trapping a truck beneath the debris. (KMIR)

Historic rain in Southern California—the most we've had in July since 1886!—caused a bridge collapse near the town of Desert Center, California over the weekend. The bridge collapse shut down all traffic for hours on the highly-traveled Interstate 10 freeway between Los Angeles and Phoenix. One unfortunate driver plowed his pickup truck into the collapsed structure, and hundreds of other cars were stranded. Alternate routes will require cars and trucks to travel hundreds of additional miles.

I-10 was constructed in 1957 and stretches 2,460 miles (3,960 km) between Santa Monica California, and Jacksonville Florida. Before the bridge collapse, 20,000 cars passed over it every day.

From the LA Times:

July rain is so unusual in Southern California that the storm broke a number of records for the month. The 0.36 inch that fell in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday set a record for the most rainfall in July, surpassing the quarter-inch that fell in July 1886, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Sweet.

The California Department of Transportation is investigating the damage and has not yet said when the bridge will be fixed.

From Hutchnews:

The westbound section of the freeway near the tiny town of Desert Center was also closed. The roadway was intact but extremely undermined by flooding and could need just-as-extensive rebuilding, said Terri Kasinga, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

No timeframe was given for when either side would reopen as crews were diverted from other projects to examine the site.

"They won't even be able to begin assessing the damage until Monday," Kasinga said.

I've driven over this bridge many times, and on a recent trip I took photos in and around the town of Desert Center. It's almost a ghost town. The Post Office is operational, but all the other businesses are close. There's a convenience store called McGoo's that's a couple of miles off the freeway.

Notable Replies

  1. This should have an interesting effect on truck traffic. That corridor sees thousands of trucks a day.

  2. Can't we just drop an aircraft carrier in there?

  3. As I was sitting on my front porch yesterday watching it rain, I was staggered by the amount of water wasted by just letting the excess run into the storm sewers and thence to the ocean. Along the way it picks up pollutants and becomes useless. Indeed, many of the San Diego beaches will be closed for the next couple of days until the rainwater runoff gets diluted and flushed into the greater Pacific.

  4. And this sort of thing is exactly why you need to spend money on infrastructure. The extra time taken, money spent diesel burnt, and inconvenience, pollution and misery caused by this one incident can be multiplied by any number of other crumbling bridges, dams and tunnels.

    And we've just had a huge recession where people with the right skills were unemployed, funds were the cheapest in history and all that was lacking was the political will to get this done.

    This level of neglect is little short of deliberate, wilful idiocy.

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