Water main break takes out chunk of dirt under Modesto bridge
MODESTO, Jan 01, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Thousands of drivers relying on west Modesto's Carpenter Road bridge over the Tuolumne River will want to find another route, perhaps for several days, because a pipe break early Tuesday washed out soil under one end of the bridge, closing it to traffic in both directions.
"It's causing a traffic nightmare," said Modesto Regional Fire Battalion Chief Cecil Ridge. "The hole is probably big enough to put a Volkswagen in."
Motorists can take Highway 99 or Crows Landing Road and the Seventh Street bridge to the east, or Paradise, Shiloh and Grayson roads to the west.
No one was hurt before a security guard noticed the problem at about 6 a.m. on the northeast side of the bridge, which crews have been upgrading for at least three months to better withstand an earthquake. It was not clear Tuesday whether that work will stay on track to finish in June, how long the bridge might be closed or whether engineers might allow one lane of traffic.
A Modesto public works employee referred questions to city administrators, whose offices were closed for the holidays.
Ridge and Modesto police Lt. Jeramy Young said the hole seems significant enough that drivers might have to find detours for a week or more. "It's a pretty big hole," Ridge said. "It ain't a quick, easy fix."
Firefighters quickly stemmed the flow gushing from the pipe, and New Year's celebrations were interrupted for other workers responding with backhoes, dump trucks and other heavy equipment.
Light traffic on a holiday morning when many revelers slept was "probably a saving grace," Ridge said, as the bridge normally carries a heavy flow of commute traffic.
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