15 Freeway lanes closed to fix damage from Hesperia bridge fire

Lanes on 15 Freeway closed for repairs after Hesperia bridge fire

Traffic lanes on the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass were shut down Wednesday night while crews repaired pavement damage caused by a massive bridge fire earlier this week.

Up to three lanes in each direction between Oak Hills Road and U.S. Highway 395 in the Hesperia area were scheduled to be shut down beginning at 9 p.m., officials said. At least one northbound lane and one southbound lane were to remain open.

The $59-million Ranchero Road bridge project was intended to breathe new economic life into southern Hesperia, enticing large numbers of commuters who travel the main artery to Las Vegas to pull off the freeway and visit local restaurants, gas stations and motels.

Instead, the project was reduced to a charred and twisted hulk after a worker's torch started a fire Monday. The blaze, stoked by strong winds, burned into the night and was finally extinguished Tuesday morning.

The massive pile of debris collapsed onto the pavement, forcing officials to shut down the heavily traveled freeway. The closure snarled traffic for miles in both directions. Northbound lanes reopened Tuesday evening, and southbound lanes were cleared for traffic early Wednesday.

Officials said the project was scheduled to be competed in February 2015. But officials said that workers had made significant progress and that the span might have been able to open by October.

Crews were just days away from pouring concrete on the frame when the blaze broke out.

"This bridge was supposed to help the community at this end of the desert," Caltrans spokeswoman Michelle Profant said. "They'll have to go back to the way things were."

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