An elevated section of Interstate 10 collapsed yesterday amid heavy rains in the California desert, injuring one driver, stranding many others, and halting travel for thousands by cutting off both directions of a main corridor between Southern California and Arizona. "Interstate 10 is closed completely and indefinitely," says a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. A bridge for eastbound traffic about 15 feet above a normally dry wash about 50 miles west of the Arizona state line gave way and ended up in the floodwaters below, the California Highway Patrol says, blocking all traffic headed toward Arizona. The westbound section of the freeway near the tiny town of Desert Center is also closed.
The westbound roadway is intact but extremely undermined by flooding and could need extensive rebuilding, the transportation department rep says, and crews "won't even be able to begin assessing the damage until Monday." That means those seeking to travel between California and Arizona would be forced to go hundreds of miles out of their way to Interstate 8 to the south or Interstate 40 to the north. Busy I-10 is the most direct route between Phoenix and parts of Southern California, including Los Angeles. Hundreds of other cars were stranded immediately after the collapse, but the California Highway Patrol was working to divert them in the other direction off the freeway and it wasn't clear if any remained, the spokeswoman says.