Huge eucalyptus blocks Route 163 during evening rush

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SAN DIEGO – One of the main routes out of downtown San Diego was blocked during the evening commute Friday when a huge eucalyptus tree came crashing down and blocked all traffic lanes.

The tree fell across the northbound lanes of state Route 163 just south of the Robinson Avenue overpass at about 4 p.m., hitting the front end of a white Volkswagen sedan. The car was trapped under a branch, but no one in the car was injured.

All northbound lanes of the freeway were closed for the entire evening commute as crews worked to cut up the big tree and remove it from the roadway. Northbound commuters were diverted to surface streets, Interstate 5 and Highway 94 to get around the blocked segment of freeway.

Caltrans officials said they planned to keep the northbound lanes of the freeway closed for several hours Friday night while they checked other large trees along the freeway for signs that they might give way. They eventually reopened all lanes at about 7:45 p.m.