60 Freeway Westbound Lanes Now Open

By City News Service

Firefighters converged last Wednesday on the 60 Freeway and Paramount Blvd bridge near the Montebello Mall. This morning, all but a steel beam remains of the southern half of the Paramount Blvd bridge. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

The westbound lanes of the Pomona (60) Freeway were reopened to traffic today, three days after both directions of the key route were closed when a gasoline tanker burned underneath a huge overpass.

And concrete repairs on the fire-scarred eastbound lanes may be dry enough for traffic by 5 p.m. today, said Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler.

Earlier in the day, Caltrans officials had said both directions would not reopen until Sunday evening.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol reopened the road towards Los Angeles at about 11:07 a.m. Motorists were reportedly encountering dust from the emergency bridge demolition.

All of the southern half of the Paramount Boulevard overpass had been removed by sunrise today, leaving only a temporary steel beam that was suspended above eastbound freeway lanes to support a key fiber communications conduit.

Contractors continued to grapple with the fiber line buried in the northern half of the damaged structure, above the westbound freeway lanes, Chandler said. Workers today began tearing out enough of the northern side of the overpass to allow the critical fiber line to be daylighted, and then shifted over onto another temporary beam.

See related story: 60 Freeway Shutdown by Tanker Truck Fire Could Reopen On Saturday

The north half of the overpass will be torn down during overnight closures on the westbound 60 starting at 11 p.m. Sunday, Chandler said. The eastbound 60 will remain open during the 11 p.m.-5 a.m. closures, but with two lanes blocked off for safety.

On the freeway itself, other crews today repaired about 1,000 square feet of damaged concrete lanes of the eastbound 60, after the last overpass debris had been carted off. The concrete pavement, poured in the early 1960s, had been baked into destruction by incredible temperatures from the 8,800 gallons of gasoline that burned.

The driver of a double-tanker truck noticed his rig on fire as he travelled east on the 60 last Wednesday, and stopped beneath the only overpass on a two-mile-long stretch of freeway.

A preliminary investigation indicated the truck’s brakes may have overheated, causing the fire, CHP Officer Vince Ramirez said. The truck was apparently operated by Cool Transports of Colton.

The freeway remained closed from Rosemead Boulevard on the east to the Long Beach (710) Freeway on the west, although some local traffic was allowed to use the 60 in East Los Angeles today.

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December 17, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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