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Quality of Life

Heavy Rains Collapse I-10 Bridge Between California And Arizona

In this photo provided by the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department, emergency crews respond after a pickup truck crashed into the collapse of an elevated section of Interstate 10 in Desert Center, July 19, 2015.
Chief Geoff Pemberton/CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire via AP
In this photo provided by the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department, emergency crews respond after a pickup truck crashed into the collapse of an elevated section of Interstate 10 in Desert Center, July 19, 2015.

All traffic along a major freeway connecting California and Arizona was blocked indefinitely when a bridge over a desert wash collapsed during heavy rain, and the roadway in the opposite direction suffered severe damage, authorities said.

The collapse Sunday of Interstate 10 in southeastern California left one driver injured, stranded numerous motorists and complicated travel for countless others for what officials warned could be a long time.

The closure will force drivers seeking to use I-10 to travel between California and Arizona to go hundreds of miles out of their way.

The rains came amid a second day of showers and thunderstorms in southern and central California that were setting rainfall records in what is usually a dry month. Forecasters expected scattered rain through Monday as the remnants of a tropical storm off Baja California continued to push north.

The bridge for eastbound traffic about 50 miles west of the Arizona state line gave way and ended up in the flooding water below, the California Highway Patrol said.

The westbound section of the freeway near the tiny town of Desert Center was also closed. The roadway was intact but extremely undermined by flooding and could need just-as-extensive rebuilding, Terri Kasinga, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation said.

No timeframe was given for when either side would reopen as crews were diverted from other projects to examine the site Monday.

Transportation officials recommended travelers on the east side of the collapse use U.S. Highway 95 in Arizona to get to the other freeways, and that in California drivers use state routes 86 and 111 to get to Interstate 8 into Arizona.

One driver had to be rescued from a pickup that crashed in the collapse and was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries, the Riverside County Fire Department said.

Hundreds of other cars were stranded immediately after the collapse, but the California Highway Patrol worked to divert them and it wasn't clear if any remained, Kasinga said.

YouTube video from Caltrans