A portion of the northbound 215 Freeway in Riverside County was expected to be closed until into early Wednesday, and southbound lanes were subject to intermittent delays, after a big rig hit a bridge Tuesday morning, causing the structure to partially collapse.
The crash occurred at the site of the 215 Freeway and State Route 74 interchange project on the northbound side of the freeway south of Nuevo Road (map) in Perris, according to Caltrans.
Amid ongoing repair work, the freeway was expected to be shut down in both directions during afternoon rush hour, authorities said at an afternoon news conference. Later, officials on scene said southbound lanes may not close until 8 p.m.
“If you have to travel this area, please, please use alternate routes,” California Highway Patrol Officer Travis Monks said. “If can avoid this area, avoid it.”
The dual-axle tractor-trailer was going about 55 mph in the No. 2 lane when it veered right into the K-rail in the construction zone. The tractor came back onto the roadway but the trailer stuck and slid on the K-rail into a support beam on the bridge, Monks said.
No one was injured and no other vehicles were involved, he said.
The truck appeared to be on its side beneath the bridge, which was under construction, a photo from Cal Fire Riverside showed.
A SigAlert was issued at around 10:10 a.m., and all lanes of the northbound the freeway was closed at Ethanac Road, Caltrans stated. Traffic was being diverted at Fourth Street.
Caltrans shut down the southbound side of the freeway temporarily until an engineer could ensure the bridge was safe for motorists to travel under, according to the CHP.
The southbound lanes were reopened just before 11:45 a.m. but were expected to close again during evening rush hour, Caltrans District 8 spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said.
A full closure turned out not to be necessary officials later determined.
Instead, the southbound lanes would be subject to brief “rolling closures” throughout the night as need to check the bridge, according to Caltrans.
All northbound lanes between Redlands Avenue and the Ramona Expressway were expected to remain closed “into the “wee hours” of Wednesday morning, Kasinga said.
The driver in the collision was being interviewed by authorities, who were trying to determine if he was at fault or if there was a problem with the vehicle, Monks said. The driver was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs but had made statements that contradicted evidence at the scene, Monks said.
The overpass that was under construction was nearly complete, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Transportation Commission said. The bridge is part of a 12 1/2-mile freeway widening project that began in February 2013.
About a year earlier, the old bridge was hit by a truck carrying a modular home, the commission spokeswoman said.
Perris is roughly 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
A similar major interstate closure occurred on the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass in early May, when another wooden overpass that was under construction caught fire.
In that incident, about 45 miles north of Tuesday’s 215 Freeway closure, the roadway was closed for well over 24 hours, causing major traffic backups.