Freeway pothole was a patch job that unraveled, Caltrans says

Caltrans workers repair a pothole on the 5 Freeway in Boyle Heights that developed from a patch job performed the day before to repair damage caused by an overturned big rig.

The large pothole that damaged roughly 22 vehicles Tuesday morning on a 5 Freeway connector in Boyle Heights stemmed from a patch job performed the day before after a big rig overturned, damaging the bridge deck.

Engineers with the California Department of Transportation had used epoxy to patch the concrete on the connector from the southbound I-5 to the eastbound I-10, but that job began to unravel Tuesday morning, officials said. The result: a large hole in the middle lane that exposed the underlying rebar.

Vehicles were damaged when they struck the large pothole, which was reported to be about 3 feet by 6 feet, on Tuesday morning.

“Vehicles driving over this hole got flat tires. Fortunately, no one was injured,” said Lauren Wonder, a spokeswoman for Caltrans. “For the safety of motorists and to allow crews to repair the deck, the California Highway Patrol closed the connector.”


CHP officials said the agency issued a SigAlert for the area starting at 7:30 a.m. One lane remains closed; Caltrans plans to have the connector fully opened by Tuesday afternoon.

Wonder said motorists whose cars were damaged can file claims with the state. If damages are less than $10,000, claims should be filed with Caltrans. Claims over $10,000 should be filed with the State Board of Control.

To repair the pothole, workers saw-cut the hole so they could put a wooden form under the rebar, Wonder said, then repaired the rebar and poured quick-setting concrete.

The bridge was constructed in 1959 and supports some 300,000 vehicles a day in both directions. Wonder said the bridge has some deficiencies in that it needs to be brought up to current design standards, but its structural integrity is sound.


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