MONTEBELLO (CBS) — The California Highway Patrol advised affected motorists to plan an extra hour for their Thursday morning commute after a tanker truck went up in flames on the Pomona (60) Freeway Wednesday, prompting closure of the roadway in both directions between the 605 and 710 freeways.
The truck carrying 8,800 gallons of gasoline went up in flames shortly after 12 p.m., creating plumes of thick black smoke that could be seen from as far away as 11 miles. The heat of the flames caused melting asphalt and exploding chunks of concrete to fly off the overhead Paramount Boulevard bridge.
Witnesses told KCAL9 only rebar was left, and the concrete on the underside of the bridge was gone.
Inspection of the damage to the freeway and the bridge began late Wednesday, with road closures expected to remain in effect indefinitely until CalTrans workers determine that driving conditions are safe.
“Our engineers are going to do a closer inspection of the bridge to see how bad the cement is damaged, and also the rebar inside the bridge,” said Patrick Chandler of CalTrans. “And then we’ll move to the next step to potentially repair the bridge.”
Drivers were already losing their patience Wednesday, as the burning tanker truck created gridlock all over the San Gabriel Valley, causing delays of up to four hours or more.
Celeste Padilla is a daily commuter on the 60 freeway. She says she has to be at work on the Westside Thursday by 7 a.m.
“I’m gonna probably have to find a detour solution,” says Padilla, “or sleep over at my brother’s house tonight to get to work on time.”
The CHP southern division says without a doubt the Thursday morning commute will be affected. In addition to finding alternate routes, the agency suggests drivers consider taking public transportation.
Traffic diverted from the 60 is expected to spill over Thursday onto the 710, 210, and 10 freeways.
Officials from MetroLink say there is plenty of capacity on their San Bernardino Line trains.
Wednesday night just before 11:30 p.m., various on-ramps were reopened, including the Garfield Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard on-ramps to the westbound 60, and the San Gabriel, Rosemead, Santa Anita and Peck on-ramps to the eastbound 60.