OCEANSIDE, Calif. — The closure for emergency repairs of State Route 78 has been extended again by Caltrans after crews found additional damage to the the highway from recent flooding.
Westbound lanes on SR-78 from College Boulevard to El Camino Real are expected to remain closed for at least another week, the agency said in a press release Sunday. It is unclear when the lanes will be reopened.
Crews have been working on area for the past week to repair a metal culvert, which is a pipe used to drain water, underneath the westbound lanes that collapsed due to heavy flooding.
Initially one lane was closed off, but it was later extended to all the lanes in the impacted area.
After emergency repairs began, Caltrans said the department initiated an investigation of additional culverts in the adjacent area and found three more culverts in critical condition.
“These culverts are about 70 years old, they have exceeded their service life,” Caltrans maintenance division chief for district 11, Shawn Rizzutto, told FOX 5. “It’s just that with all the rain that we’ve experienced this year its’ caused accelerated deterioration of these culverts.”
All four of the failing culverts will be replaced by Caltrans crews in the coming days.
Crews will continue work on the culverts throughout the week for 24-hours a day, as weather allows. Signs are currently placed on both sides of the Interstate 15 notifying drivers about the closure, as well as on the westbound SR-78.
Motorists using the highway will detour to the College Boulevard and Vista Way off-ramp, before being directed west on Vista Way to the westbound SR-78 El Camino Real on-ramp.
Storms moving through the area have made it difficult for Caltrans crews to complete the needed repairs in a timely manner, according to the agency. The agency said they have to pump water past the damaged culverts, then up and around to another drainage system.
“The main thing is being able to convey water and not get water behind our shoring to ensure the slope stability remains intact,” Rizzutto said. “But that is one of then reasons why we drove the shoring out like we did, in order to protect the eastbound lanes and the slope that goes up to the shopping center.”
Once Caltrans completes work on the westbound lanes, the eastbound lanes will close for repair work to the culverts on that side of the highway.
Caltrans said real-time traffic information, including road closures, traffic speeds and construction updates can be found on their QuickMap website.
The agency is asking motorists to avoid the area, if possible, and to be careful while driving in the coming days, as another storm moves into the area.