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

New 60 Freeway Paramount bridge opens Monday after tanker fire

A tanker truck caught fire Wednesday, December 14, 2011, on the eastbound 60 Freeway in Montebello, forcing the closure of the freeway and an overcrossing.

May 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
After months of closure, the new Paramount Boulevard bridge on the 60 Freeway in Montebello will reopen Monday ahead of schedule.

Moe Maithalouni works at a nearby gas station and says he has spent much of his time at work giving detour directions since the tanker fire last December.

He says the gas station has lost 40 percent of its business as drivers try to navigate the closure in backed up traffic.

"It used to take me 20 minutes to get here. Now, it takes about 45, 50 minutes," he said. "I don't see most of my customers anymore, because they live on the other side of the bridge."

Commuter Daniel Mathison of Montebello agrees.

"It just takes an awful lot longer in time, it just becomes very frustrating when I really need to get through," he said.

But because of hard-working crews and inter-agency cooperation, the bridge is set to open a month ahead of time and below budget. And for businesses and commuters who use it as a thoroughfare, it is music to their ears.

The new bridge was funded with $40 million in federal emergency money and will be a big improvement over the original bridge, which was built in the 1960s. It will have an additional north-bound lane, an expanded center median and sidewalks, and 8-foot shoulders.

Community leaders praised the teamwork between government agencies, Cal Trans and contractor Ortiz Enterprises.

"I want to change the name of Caltrans, because that's the wrong name for the agency," said Assembly member Mike Eng. "I would like to call it the 'si, se puede' organization, because with Caltrans, 'si se puede,' it's possible. When they say, no, you can't do it, it's possible."

The new bridge opens Monday, and at Maithalouni's Chevron station, they hope it will improve not only traffic, but business too.