ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The massive rain storm that ripped through the metro Tuesday also shut down a key bridge over the interstate after it was hit with huge concrete chunks dislodged by water. On Wednesday, New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Spokesperson Kimberly Gallegos said crews who inspected the damage found it looks worse than it really is.
Tuesday’s massive storm pushed broken concrete into the San Pedro overpass pillar. One day later, NMDOT reopened the overpass, but some nearby lane closures remain.
“It was determined by our engineers that the pier has not been damaged. It passed inspection,” said Gallegos.
She explained the fast-moving current inside the arroyo along I-40 that caused extensive damage to the concrete lining, did not damage the bridge, saying none of the debris seen Wednesday is part of the San Pedro overpass.
“The debris that was pushed against the pier was some debris that came from upstream and so nothing fell from the bridge. It just got caught up on the pier and that is what was making the water rush up over the interstate, over the channel,” Gallegos said.
NMDOT crews worked Wednesday to assess the debris pile and break up some of the leftover rubble. While they’ve decided to reopen the San Pedro overpass, the two lanes along I-40 will stay closed for safety.
“Inspectors are worried about the possibility of a sinkhole under the arroyo. That is another thing they want to determine. There is some water that undermined that area, so we need to get in there,” said Gallegos.
NMDOT said arroyos remain full despite the rain subsiding. Crews had to delay Wednesday’s work because of the potential of another rush of water.
“With the water upstream, we are going to have to pull our employees and our equipment, for safety reasons, out of the channel, but as soon as weather permits or the water levels permit, we will get back in there and make those repairs.”
NMDOT is still trying to figure out the cost of the repairs. Gallegos said crews expect to remove the eastbound I-40 lane closures sometime Thursday. In the meantime, message boards will be in place alerting drivers of the changes.