HESPERIA (CBSLA.com) — Officials fully reopened all lanes of Interstate 15 Tuesday evening following a bridge fire that caused major traffic delays in the Cajon Pass.
The Ranchero Road Bridge fire was ignited by a contractor cutting rebar with welding equipment around 1:30 p.m. Monday, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
The fire continued to burn overnight, aided by winds with gusts up to 35 mph as crews demolished remnants of the football-field-sized structure.
“We were not able to get as far as we thought,” Director of San Bernardino Associated Governments Ray Wolfe said. “It has been very difficult to get this structure down.”
SANBAG was working closely with Caltrans, San Bernardino County Fire, California Highway Patrol and the project’s contractor, Security Paving, to remove the bridge debris and repair the highway so all lanes could be reopened as quickly as possible.
Traffic was moving at a normal pace on the northbound side Tuesday evening while crews hurried to remove remaining debris from the southbound lanes in time for the Wednesday morning commute. Southbound lanes were reopened shortly before midnight Wednesday.
Construction on the $59 million wood and rebar project began more than a year ago, according to Caltrans. It was scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.
County officials say the fire has added another six months its construction, which is expected to cost an additional $5 to $6 million. KCAL9’s Tom Wait reports the cost could be more if it’s determined the concrete columns that hold up the bridge will need to be replaced.
“The contractor is already looking at what it’s going to take to reconstruct this and get this bridge built as soon as possible,” Wolfe said at a press conference Tuesday.