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I-10 Bridge Gets $2M Emergency Funds

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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As repair crews continue to work on a collapsed bridge that used to carry I-10 through the California desert, the agencies responsible for the repairs will have some money available to help the cause.

Federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday (July 23) that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) would provide $2 million in emergency funds to fix the Tex Wash Bridge. The bridge collapsed July 19 during flash floods in a heavy rainstorm.

“About 20,000 drivers use this bridge each day, traveling between Arizona and California,” said Foxx about the bridge, which is 48 miles from the California/Arizona state lines.

Twitter/@DEAubrey

The eastbound side of the Tex Wash Bridge, which carries I-10 through the California desert, failed during a heavy rainstorm on July 19.

“It is a critical piece of infrastructure for the people in both states, and DOT is committed to doing everything we can to help the area rebuild quickly and safely.”

More Money, Time Needed

The emergency money is not coming out of the FHWA Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account. That fund is expected to fall below $4 million by Friday (Aug. 1). At that point, Foxx has said federal “cash management procedures” and delayed reimbursements will start.

There’s been no word about how that might affect rebuilding the Tex Wash Bridge.

Even still, the $2 million in emergency funds may be of little relief. In a press conference Friday (July 24) just before the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) reopened a portion of the road, the state announced that the project could cost $5 million and that it could take two months to complete, according to The Desert Sun.

“Our goal is to expedite the design and construction, open and operational by the end of September,” said John Bulinski, Caltrans Interim District Director.

Temporary Fix

The eastbound bridge that carries I-10 toward Arizona failed when floodwaters caused the bridge’s foundation dirt to shift. The westbound bridge—which carries traffic toward the Los Angeles area—was not destroyed, but it was weakened.

KPHO/CBS5AZ

Caltrans has opened a temporary eastbound lane to use part of the westbound bridge, which also was damaged by the July 19 storm.

Despite having to use the weakened structure, Caltrans officials worked during the week to provide travelers with a short-term fix. A temporary road now leads eastbound traffic to the westbound bridge, which is carrying traffic moving in both directions.

Travelers took to social media over the weekend to praise the relatively quick-moving traffic.

“Just crossed bridge at Desert Center eastbound—less than 10 mins at 20 mph. Westbound even less delay,” said Debra Aubrey (@DEAubrey) on Caltran’s District 8 Twitter feed.

Others reported similar experiences to The Desert Sun.

“It was better than I thought,” said Phoenix resident Donna Alonge. “It was really organized and we passed through without a problem.”

Meanwhile, the bridge’s safety was continuing to be a topic of discussion. Transportation officials gave the 48-year-old bridge an “A” rating in 2014. That means it was supposed to be able to withstand catastrophic flooding—but did not.

Both the FHWA and Caltrans have said they would continue to investigate how the bridge failed.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Failure analysis; Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Transportation; water damage

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