U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has made $2 million in federal emergency relief funds available from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to help repair the I-10 Tex Wash Bridge, near Desert Center, CA, which collapsed Sunday afternoon due to flash floods caused by heavy rains. Its collapse injured one person, and stranded hundreds of motorists for hours. State officials have closed the route, a primary artery between California and Arizona, to allow time to conduct a damage assessment.
“About 20,000 drivers use this bridge each day, traveling between Arizona and California,” said Secretary Foxx. “ 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.”
Heavy rains caused by remnants of Hurricane Dolores caused widespread flooding throughout southern California, as well as rock slides near Big Bear Lake and power outages in and around San Bernardino.
The collapsed eastbound bridge and the westbound bridge, which did not collapse but was severely weakened when the other struck it, are under investigation by engineers from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and FHWA. The spans are about 48 miles west of the Arizona border.
“Emergency relief funding will make immediate repairs possible throughout the area and allow this interstate to open again,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “We want to ensure that everyone in southern California has access to safe roads and safe bridges, so these resources will help speed repairs and ensure that travel can return to normal as soon as possible.”
Though cost estimates for the damage are not yet complete, these emergency funds will help Caltrans begin repair work and restore essential traffic while working with the FHWA to evaluate repair options.
The FHWA's Emergency Relief program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.
In the meantime, Caltrans is diverting eastbound traffic onto SH-86 in Coachella, CA., which goes southeast of the Salton Sea to Interstate 8.