Inland Empire motorists got some good news Sunday.
Preliminary repair work was completed early on the shuttered eastbound 60 Freeway between Ontario and Riverside, and all lanes of the roadway were reopened about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, hours ahead of schedule, Caltrans announced. The freeway was supposed to reopen late Sunday night.
“Great news Inland Empire motorists,” the agency tweeted. “The 60 Swarm is over early this weekend. All lanes on EB 60 are now open. Thank you for your cooperation.”
But the relief won’t last long.
Multiple road repair projects on the east-west thoroughfare began last week. Three bridges in Chino will be replaced over the next 18 months as part of Caltrans’ so-called 60 Swarm, a $134-million project to replace deteriorating pavement and stripe lanes.
Excluding Labor Day weekend, eastbound lanes between the 15 Freeway and the junction of the 60, 91 and 215 freeways in Riverside will be closed for seven more weekends, starting on Friday nights, followed by westbound closures for the following seven weekends. Lanes will be closed from 10 p.m. Fridays to 5 a.m. Mondays and overnight on weekdays from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Drivers looking for eastbound detours over the coming weekends can use the northbound 15, eastbound 10 and the southbound 215 or 15 and eastbound 91 freeways. Westbound detours will be available in the opposite direction on the same freeways.
“This is huge,” said Terri Kasinga, the California Department of Transportation’s chief of public and media affairs at District 8. “It’s going to be bigger than ‘Carmageddon’ or ‘Coronageddon’ because it’s 15 weekends.”
“Carmageddon” shut down the 405 Freeway for one weekend in 2011 as workers widened the highway, prompting residents to avoid what many feared would be a traffic nightmare by leaving town or staying at home. In 2016, the 91 Freeway was closed for a weekend of repairs, eliciting a “Coronageddon” response in Riverside and surrounding counties. But that’s a fraction of what the 60 Swarm entails.
Furthering overnight traffic woes, the northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway between the 55 and 22 freeways will be closed Aug. 2-3 to demolish the Main Street carpool bridge, not far from Disneyland. The ramp was permanently closed in April but will be torn down to make room for a second carpool lane.
All lanes will be closed from 11 p.m. Aug. 2 to 7 a.m. Aug. 3, and again from 11 p.m. Aug. 3 to 9 a.m. Aug. 4. There also will be a full closure on Main Street between Santa Clara Avenue and Main Place Drive, partial closures on southbound lanes of the 5 Freeway between Gene Autry Way and Main Street, and various on- and offramp closures.
The construction is part of a $41.5-million project by the Orange County Transit Authority.