On Thursday, officials re-opened Interstate 15, which connects the Inland Empire to the high desert. Highway 138 remains closed in several places. Commuters looking to travel through the area should expect delays.
The 15 had been closed due to the Blue Cut Fire. Now that it's reopened, it's likely to stay congested, Shelli Lombardo told KPCC.
"It's going to take a while for that traffic to recover," Lombardo said.
If you must drive around the fire area, here are some alternate routes around the 15 and 138 you should know about.
Transit officials recommended the routes around highway closures and congestion to KPCC. Keep in mind that they'll likely add hours to typical commute times.
Possible routes around closures the 138 and congestion on Interstate 15 are diagrammed below.
For commuters trying to avoid Interstate 15 to travel from the High Desert to San Bernardino, California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Carapia recommended:
- Take the 18 to the 247
- 247 to the 62 through Twentynine Palms
- Get on Interstate 10, where travelers can then head west or east
To avoid the 138, Caltrans' Terri Kasinga recommended the following:
- Take the 58 to the 14
- Take the 14, which connects to Interstate 5 and several other highways into the Los Angeles Basin or Inland Empire
Kasinga said that local roads may provide other options for commuters seeking to avoid the 138, but that big rigs need to stick to the highways.
Google Maps estimates that the 138 detour would take 1 hour and 47 minutes to get from the 58 to the 5. The I-15 detour could take over 2 hours just to get to the 10, from the Victorville area, according to Google Maps.
The CHP's Carapia added that many local streets are closed and that street closures are changing rapidly.
We have a listing of road closures prompted by the fire here.
A CHP spokesman called the area a “traffic nightmare” and emphasized everyone who can should stay off the freeways.
“Please use alternate routes. Don’t try to get through the closures,” CHP Officer Steve Carapia said. “We’ve had some closures where big rigs have not followed the instructions of the closures and gone through the 138 … now they can’t turn around."
The California Highway Patrol is working to reopen the freeways as soon as possible, according to CHP Chief Rich Stewart, who said he understood the closures have had a major impact on the region, with thousands of vehicles traveling the Cajon Pass every day.
Stewart said about 50 personnel were dedicated specifically to working on the closures and an air unit was checking on traffic.
KPCC's latest coverage of the Blue Cut Fire is available here.
This post has been updated.