OCEANSIDE, Calif. — State Route 78 is set to fully reopen for drivers Monday afternoon, after Caltrans said crews officially completed emergency repairs to the freeway.
The #1 westbound lane opened for motorists at 11 a.m. today, according to Caltrans. All eastbound lanes will open at 2 p.m., just in time for the evening commute.
“We would like to thank the community, the cities of Oceanside and Vista, the traveling public and local businesses for their patience and understanding while we completed this emergency work project,” District 11 Chief Deputy Director Everett Townsend said in a release.
The emergency work to the stretch of freeway from College Boulevard to El Camino Real began nearly two months ago, when a sinkhole formed on the westbound lanes amid heavy rain from this year’s winter storms.
Repairs were initially expected to take a few days, but crews soon found the problem was much bigger than expected: nine failing culverts were identified under both sides of the freeway that needed to be replaced.
The SR-78 westbound lanes were shut down first on Mar. 15. Crews reopened all but one of these lanes on Apr. 5, when crews switched to work on the eastbound lanes.
According to Caltrans, at least nine crews from small local contractors worked on the stretch of road 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the work done as quickly as possible.
They had to dig more than 40 feet below the freeway to complete the necessary repairs on both sides, according to Caltrans. The total cost of the project was a little more than $21 million.
Shawn Rizzutto, Caltrans Division Chief of Maintenance for District 11, told FOX 5 Sunday that it was one of the biggest projects completed in a short time frame, across his decades in the business.
Some night closures and shoulder closures along SR-78 may continue for the next two weeks — depending on weather and traffic incidents — as the final details of the project are completed, Caltrans said Monday. Motorists are reminded to be aware of any workers or moving equipment.
Real-time traffic information can be found on the Caltrans Quickmap website, including traffic speed, lane and road closures.
“I know it seems like its been a long time for the public and the community,” Rizzutto told FOX 5, “but it was really necessary to do this work in the time frame that we did it in, because of the safety factor we needed to account for.”
FOX 5’s Zara Barker contributed to this report.