60 Freeway won't reopen until Saturday at earliest, officials say
Work was continuing today to demolish the Paramount Boulevard bridge over the 60 Freeway, but complications discovered late Thursday mean that the highway, closed since Wednesday noon, may not reopen by this afternoon's rush hour, as state transportation officials had initially thought.
KTLA was reporting that the roadway is now scheduled to reopen Saturday at the earliest. Area commutes, meanwhile, are expected to be further hampered by high winds, forecast for today through Saturday, particularly in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The 60 Freeway was closed Wednesday after a big rig carrying 8,800 gallons of gasoline caught fire while heading east. It came to rest under the overpass. The blaze that ensued damaged the bridge over eastbound lanes to the point where the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) determined it had to be demolished. A decision on whether to demolish the bridge over the westbound lanes had not been made late Thursday.
The fire and work on the bridge have closed the freeway since then, though a portion of the road has been reopened at Rosemead Boulevard. The 60 is now closed between the 710 Freeway and Rosemead.
Stalling the work on the overpass was the discovery Thursday night of fiber-optic cables "that house potentially hazardous material," Patrick Chandler, a spokesman for Caltrans, told the Times.
The cables were found to be encased in plastic tubing containing asbestos, KTLA reported this morning. Moreover, cutting the cables, which run the length of the bridge, would disrupt phone service for nearby businesses and homes.
The new developments mean that crews have to come up with an alternative plan to tear down the damaged span.
Officials, meanwhile, have also been waiting for test results of concrete on the part of the bridge over the westbound freeway lanes, which would determine whether they also need to demolish that side of the bridge.
The test results came back Thursday night, but Chandler said Caltrans officials in Sacramento were not releasing the findings, wanting to do more analysis.
"They want to have a second set of eyes before they take action," he told The Times.
The new complications, he said, mean the opening of the freeway would probably be delayed.
"It's most likely not going to be at 12 or 5" p.m. Friday, he said.
-- Sam Quinones
Photo: Caltrans crews and engineers work on the Paramount bridge over the eastbound 60 Freeway on Thursday. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times