Demolition begins on bridge over 60 Freeway; may reopen Friday afternoon

Demolition begins of east side of Route 60 overpass.
Demolition begins of east side of Route 60 overpass.
Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Following a tanker fire that caused serious damage to the Paramount Bridge above the 60 Freeway, demolition of the east side of the overpass has begun. Caltrans also now says they plan to reopen both directions of the 60 in time for the evening commute Friday, helping out those trying to drive through Montebello to get from the Inland Empire or Pomona Valley into L.A.

Heavy tractors moved in to begin demolishing the eastern lanes.

The double-tanker caught fire on the eastbound 60 beneath the Paramount Bridge shortly after noon Wednesday, damaging the structure of the bridge and melting a freeway sign while sending thick black smoke into the sky. The tanker's driver and passenger escaped safely.

It remains unclear whether the west side of the bridge will need to be demolished as well; engineers took core samples today to assess the damage, according to a Caltrans press release. The decision on whether to demolish the west side is expected later today.

California Department of Transportation spokesman Kelly Markham says that in either case, the highway east of Los Angeles will reopen Friday afternoon in time for the evening commute. Some drivers reported delays of an hour or more during their morning commute Thursday.

The closing caused traffic nightmares this morning as commuters tried to route around the 60 to get to work, as the 60 was closed between the Long Beach Freeway (I-710) and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605).

According to Caltrans, 220,000 vehicles use the 60 Freeway every day. Caltrans is also using the closure to conduct additional freeway maintenance.

This story has been updated.