Last Sunday, the 10 Freeway through the San Gorgonio Pass looked like a scene out of the "Everybody Hurts" video or that two-week long traffic jam in China in 2010. On Sunday, on the road out of Palm Springs, a series of unfortunate events and Caltrans screwups led to a nightmare all-day jam, with people peeing on the shoulder and chartering private jets out of there (not a lot of people, but some). The LA Times explores the debacle; here's what happened:
-- Caltrans was doing "what should have been routine overnight road construction," tearing up and replacing worn concrete on a three-mile stretch in Banning, but the trouble started when they just straight up neglected to tell their public information office that they were doing roadwork.
-- Most of the lanes closed Saturday at 10 pm, and then the workers commenced tearing up "more of the road than they could replace on time."
-- Meanwhile, "a computer issue at a concrete plant in Cabazon had idled production." So there wasn't even enough concrete to finish the job--that left "a one-foot-deep gouge" in the road.
-- Obviously Caltrans realized by then that there would be huge delays on Sunday morning. But again, they did not tell public affairs.
-- "Motorists were already trapped on the road before the first public warnings were issued." And on top of that, by the time Caltrans trucks were loaded up with concrete, they got caught in the jam themselves.
-- At that point, three of the four westbound lanes were closed, although one opened up a little later.
-- All westbound lanes opened at 9:30 pm.
According to the LAT, delays lasted at least five hours and people took the most extreme measures you can take when you're trapped in a car in a mountain pass--some drove on the shoulder, one just sped out into the desert, one couple "took a circuitous route into the San Bernardino Mountains, circling Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead," and four managed to get off the freeway and charter a private plane so they could make the Grammys ($4,200 kind of doesn't seem like a lot to pay in that situation). Meanwhile, the engineer in charge of the project has been transferred and "Several area politicians have demanded investigations."
· Massive traffic jam on 10 Freeway becomes Caltrans scandal [LAT]