Desert flooding damages Interstate 10 between Los Angeles and Phoenix
CENTRAL DESERT, CA. – The main freeway from Los Angeles to Phoenix was damaged by a flash flood that washed out part of the road through the Southern California desert during the final punishment period monsoon thunderstorms that hit the region this month.
The latest round of flooding began Wednesday evening, damaging the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near the small community of Desert Center, about 165 miles (265 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.
Two-way traffic was initially halted, but westbound lanes for motorists coming from Arizona at California reopened later.
“We have a project going on in this area on I-10, so that’s the focus of I-10, so kind of a silver lining to that is we had detour lanes, and those are actually the ones we lost to the flood and the water so the good thing is that they were able to use the mainline right now for that eastbound lane that allows LA traffic to Arizona,” said Eric Dionne of Caltrans.
All eastbound traffic was diverted until the California Department of Transportation successfully reopened a lane Thursday morning. The second lane was reopened on August 28.
While the freeway was closed, officials recommended people coming from Southern California use Highways 8 or 40, which are major detours.
“Everyone, take [your] time,” trucker Lorne Focht said. “Don’t interrupt people and be patient. People are frustrated in traffic, and believe me, truckers are as frustrated as anyone.”
The main freeway connecting Los Angeles to Phoenix was damaged by a flash flood that washed out part of the road through the Southern California desert in the latest bout of punishing monsoon thunderstorms to hit the area this month -this. (Caltrans District 8)
Photos released by Caltrans showed water rushing through a deep gouge in the freeway sidewalk. The floods also affected other roads in the region, including national roads 177, 78 and 62.
“The infrastructure wasn’t ready for that,” Dionne said. “I don’t think anything, really, that was in place could have possibly stood up to it. It was just one of those things, and hopefully we can open it up as quickly as possible, but we also have to make sure that the integrity of the road is still there, and we also do that in a safe way.”
Highway affected by similar incidents in the past
A flash flood in the same area in July 2015 washed out a bridge on the east side of I-10 and eroded the ground below the westbound bridge.
The freeway was closed for nearly a week for repairs to the westbound bridge, which then carried traffic into single lanes in each direction. The east side did not reopen until September.
The National Weather Service said more flooding was possible through Thursday across a wide swath of mountains and deserts in Southern California.
AFTER: ‘Mass evacuations’ are lifted in Duncan, Arizona amid flooding
Flash flooding in early summer severely damaged roads in Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve and the south side of Joshua Tree National Park.
Officials called the August 5 flood in Death Valley historic. Hundreds of visitors were initially stranded by floodwaters and debris-covered roads. It took the park about two weeks to reopen its most popular areas.
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