Paramount Boulevard Bridge Reopens 115 Days After Fire Destroyed Predecessor

MONTEBELLO (CBS) —  The Paramount Boulevard bridge above the Pomona (60) Freeway reopened Saturday, 115 days after its predecessor was destroyed in a roiling gasoline tanker truck fire.

Caltrans officials had planned to reopen the key artery, near two major shopping malls, on June 1. That was moved up to next Monday, but when work was finished at 11:25 a.m. today, it was reopened without ceremony.

The new bridge is 32 feet wider than the old one, making room for one additional northbound lane and wider shoulders. The original bridge was built with the Pomona Freeway’s extension in 1967.

Freeway ramps were also built to modern standards in the project. Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler said federal emergency relief funds paid for the project. Early estimates place the replacement cost at $40 million. It’s not clear who ultimately will foot the bill for the repairs and replacement.

The CHP last month recommended criminal charges be filed against the company, which allegedly allowed the truck onto the freeway with a transmission that snapped and punctured its own fuel tank on Dec. 14. The truck was already ablaze when it rolled to a stop underneath Paramount Boulevard, the only overpass on more than two miles of Route 60.

Cool Transports said the transmission itself had been manufactured improperly, and — they argue — mechanical error should leave the company blameless.

Merchants at the adjacent Montebello Towne Center and Shops at Montebello reported decreased Christmas season sales because customers were unwilling to brave heavy traffic on nearby detours.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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