RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A local state of emergency was declared Tuesday in Riverside County following the collapse of a four-lane bridge on Interstate 10 that prompted a full and indefinite closure of the freeway.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of issuing a proclamation that the I-10 Adair overcrossing failure “has caused a major disruption to transportation, (impacting) travelers and Riverside County commerce that are heavily reliant on the Interstate 10 corridor.”

Supervisor John Benoit, whose Fourth District encompasses the area where the bridge gave way, said the data he has seen indicated
the collapse has resulted in “a multimillion-dollar-a-day diversion of goods.”

“The good news is, we should have traffic moving again in both directions within a matter of days,” Benoit added.

The emergency declaration allows for Riverside County to apply for state and federal relief. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the declaration would actually result in more available funding.

I-10 is a transcontinental linkage, spanning California to Florida, where an estimated 40 percent of goods shipped throughout the U.S. pass through the corridor either by highway or rail, according to Board of Supervisors Chairman Marion Ashley.

“We’ll try to address this situation very quickly and efficiently,” said Ashley.

The declaration refers to the “extreme peril” that the weekend rainstorms placed county residents and property.

Inspectors on Tuesday found erosion under two other highway bridges near the 30-foot span span of the 10 Freeway that collapsed into water just before 5 p.m. on Sunday due to heavy rains and flooding in the area.

Construction crews are working on reinforcing all affected structures.

“The closest thing I can compare it to is the Northridge earthquake,” Ashley said. “Our governor at that time, Pete Wilson, declared a statewide emergency and exempted projects from environmental assessments so that the contractor could get in there and fix the quake-damaged interchanges in record time. We need something like that now.”

While an investigation into the collapse was ongoing, Ashley stopped short of pinning blame on state engineers or other government officials, instead attributing it to an “act of God”.

“You have a big enough thunderstorm cell, and you can receive the equivalent of a 100-year rainfall in a matter of hours in one spot. I just thank God no one was seriously hurt.”

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