Northbound 215 Freeway reopens after partial bridge collapse

The northbound 215 Freeway in Perris reopened Wednesday morning nearly 20 hours after a big rig struck an under-construction bridge.

Crews were working overnight and throughout the morning to clear debris from the northbound lanes, which were closed at 10 a.m. Tuesday when the big rig, carrying a load of sand, smashed into the wooden scaffolding of the new Perris Boulevard bridge, sending wooden planks onto the highway. No one was injured.


The southbound 215 Freeway was also intermittently closed as California Department of Transportation crews worked to repair some of the damage.

Engineers examined the bridge and removed damaged falsework, which will need future repairs, said California Highway Patrol Officer Marcelo Llerena.

"Whatever was damaged, they removed," he said.

The overpass work is part of a $102-million, 12-1/2 mile freeway widening project between Interstate 15 and California 60 that will add one lane in both directions. The project started in 2013 and was expected to be completed by mid-2015. It's unclear how long the collapse will set the project back, officials said.

The west side of the bridge was completed in January, according to the Riverside County Transportation Commission, which is overseeing the work.

Crews were preparing to pour concrete onto the bridge's wooden scaffolding Tuesday night until the crash, said John Standiford, the commission's deputy executive director.

Once completed, the freeway's widening is expected to cumulatively save commuters 4,600 hours and 2,000 gallons of gas a day.

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