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Tanker fire: Motorists battle gridlock as crews demolish bridge

December 15, 2011 |  5:53 pm

Los Angeles-area motorists faced rush-hour gridlock on roadways Thursday evening as workers rushed to repair a fire-damaged bridge that shut down the heavily traveled 60 Freeway.

The 60 Freeway had been closed between the 710 and 605 freeways in the wake of a spectacular tanker-truck inferno, but a portion of the freeway was opened Thursday afternoon to help ease the evening commute.

Adjacent freeways, however, were snarled as motorists struggled to navigate to and from Los Angeles as the rush-hour commute was gearing up.

PHOTOS: Fiery crash on the 60 Freeway

"It's jammed," said Officer Christian Cracraft of the California Highway Patrol.

At the scene of the explosion and fire, construction crews continued to work through rain and drizzle Thursday evening demolishing the eastbound lanes of the Paramount Boulevard overpass.

The bridge sustained significant structural damage when a tanker caught fire and exploded with 8,800 gallons of gasoline on board.

Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler said the wet weather would not hinder the operation because workers were demolishing and not building.

The agency was hoping to have the freeway totally opened by noon Friday, he said.

However, the time frame could be delayed if the west side of the overpass also has be demolished.

Samples from the concrete on the west side of the bridge were being tested at a lab to determine whether that side had to be torn down.

If so, Chandler said, the 60 Freeway would not reopen until around 5 p.m. Friday because workers would need more time to clear the additional rubble.

The results of the test were expected Thursday night.


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