Interstate 10 Bridge Mistake Leads To Closure; More To Come

EL PASO, Texas - Were you stuck in that mess on Interstate 10 East Tuesday morning?

Texas Department of Transportation said a mistake by a local contractor caused the huge backup. The area is along I-10 East at the Geronimo overpass, just West of the Robert E. Lee and Airway overpasses.

Interstate 10 was closed in that same area on Sunday for repairs after chunks of concrete started coming up in one of the seams of the overpass at Geronimo. But when the contractor, Dan Williams Company, forgot to remove a piece of plywood after the new concrete set, they had to return to the area Tuesday morning, and they'll be returning for several weekends to come.

"Basically, we're repairing the bridge deck at Geronimo and I-10," said Tim Twomey, the West El Paso Area Engineer for TxDOT. "It's the first weekend and we have lots of unknowns in trying to figure out how to repair the bridge deck."

Those unknowns resulted in a big mistake, forgetting to take out a piece of plywood, which led to another closure Tuesday morning and will result in yet another Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

"It was told to me (Tuesday) morning that would be for one hour and one lane closure and then for some reason the guys in the field created a three lane closure," Twomey said.

Twomey added that drivers can expect closures for another two months on both sides of the freeway in order to also fix overpasses at Robert E. Lee and Airway, although TxDOT promised to try and keep the closures between 3 a.m. Sundays to 5 a.m. Mondays.

"It's a pretty tough job, but in the end, if we're able to accomplish that with a half a million dollar job we save the bridges," Twomey said, "because if we don't do them and we have to replace the bridges that closure could be very expensive."

The problem caused lots of backup along Gateway East and that caused a lot of issues for businesses in the area, including several employees at El Paso Saddleblanket, who were late for work.

"There were people cutting people off, honking a lot, trying to get to work," said Saddleblanket employee Raul Rodriguez said.

But he wasn't the only one who had an issue with it.

"It started moving very slow and it seemed like people were real upset about that," said Roberto Quinonez, who owns Diamond Quality Auto Glass on Gateway East. "Very bad. If you shut down I-10, it can affect all the businesses in the area."

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