• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

60 Freeway should reopen Saturday; work continues

December 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Crews continued to work on demolishing part of a damaged freeway overpass on Friday, and officials now say the 60 Freeway should reopen on Saturday.

The 60 Freeway in Montebello was originally estimated to be reopened by the Friday afternoon commute, but crews came across some challenges while trying to demolish the east portion of the Paramount Boulevard bridge.

Workers found phone wires encased in asbestos and an AT&T fiber-optic line in the bridge that affected customers in the area.

"A lot of times we have a construction project, we'll work with utility companies far ahead of time to get those moved out of the way," said Patrick Chandler, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). "There are certain challenges that we're going to come across as we go along, because you're cutting into a bridge that was fine just a few days ago."

Crews worked with the phone company to fix the issue, because simply removing the wires would disrupt service to thousands of customers. But they were able to resolve the issue and continue the demolition.

Caltrans Spokeswoman Judy Gish said crews hoped to have the east side of the bridge in Montebello removed by the end of the day Friday, then work on the pavement can begin and the freeway can be opened by midday Saturday.

The problems started Wednesday when a tanker truck carrying 8,800 gallons of fuel caught fire and burned underneath the bridge.

Officials estimate that 220,000 drivers use the affected stretch of the 60 Freeway each day. Those drivers were warned to find alternate routes ahead of time.

The California Highway Patrol announced Thursday night that the eastbound 60 Freeway from the 710 Freeway to Paramount Boulevard was closed, as well as the westbound side from Rosemead Boulevard to Wilcox Avenue.

The San Gabriel Boulevard onramp on the eastbound 60 Freeway and the Garfield Avenue onramp on the westbound side were open.

Drivers also can take surface streets such as Valley, Beverly, Olympic and Whittier boulevards or other main corridors such as the 10, 210 and 605 freeways.

For those who want to avoid sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, public transit may be the best bet. Metrolink offers three different lines to downtown L.A.

There's the San Bernardino Line, which includes a dozen stops between San Bernardino and Union Station, and the Riverside Line, which runs between downtown Riverside and downtown L.A.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See photos of the tanker truck fire on the 60 Freeway in Montebello.

Load Comments