CORONA – A Corona road onto which part of a bridge collapsed, injuring 10 workers, reopened on Monday, Oct. 10 amid questions regarding what caused the failure.
East Grand Boulevard, between Joy and Third streets, went back into operation at the Riverside (91) Freeway shortly after 6 a.m., according to the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
The busy circular corridor was the site of a near-disaster about 11 p.m. Friday when an on-ramp under construction at the 91 partially collapsed, snapping wooden support beams that in turn struck members of the construction crew below, RCTC officials said.
According to the agency, seven of the 10 men injured Friday night remain hospitalized. Officials declined to disclose their conditions, citing privacy concerns. All of the men work for Irvine-based Atkinson Walsh Construction.
RCTC Deputy Director John Standiford said the partial collapse occurred during a “jacking operation” in which crews were attempting to lower portions of a new on-ramp into place. Standiford said that the bridge deck slipped before it could be anchored, dropping 16 inches and hitting the support beams.
No part of the 91 was damaged during the mishap, and freeway travel was not disrupted. Grand Boulevard traffic was diverted through the weekend. The reopened corridor is narrowed to one lane in the construction zone. Cal-OSHA is investigating the collapse. According to RCTC officials, Atkinson Walsh intends to hire a forensic engineer to analyze what went wrong and provide recommendations on how a similar failure may be prevented in the future.
It’s the second major setback for the 91 Project Fast Forward in less than a month.
On Sept. 15, the westbound 91 at Green River Road was partially shut down after rainwater pooled in one of the far right lanes, raising concerns that the surface might collapse.
Lane closures were in effect for several days, creating a chokepoint on the heavily used artery that seriously delayed commutes into Orange County. The freeway was fully reopened after workers replaced several concrete slabs.
Corona Mayor Eugene Montanez complained to RCTC that commuters had flooded city streets, making life unbearable for residents. He criticized RCTC for poor planning.
Officials replied that the damage had been unforeseen and every effort was made to expedite repairs.
The $1.3 billion 91 freeway project, which got underway last year, entails widening the east-west corridor between the Orange County line and Interstate 15, with new traffic lanes and ramps, as well as additional shoulder space and wider surface streets in the vicinity of the freeway.
Work is slated to wrap up at the end of 2017.