California

Emergency repairs underway on major highway after Ridgecrest quake. Could cost millions

Everyone’s rushing to see the new earthquake fault scarp and cracks

Scientists and the public are coming to see the new fault scarp in the hills east of Ridgecrest as Caltrans patches cracks in the Highway 178 this weekend east of Ridgecrest.
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Scientists and the public are coming to see the new fault scarp in the hills east of Ridgecrest as Caltrans patches cracks in the Highway 178 this weekend east of Ridgecrest.

Caltrans crews on Sunday began repairing damage to Highway 178 caused by the recent earthquakes that rocked the Ridgecrest area and beyond.

An emergency order signed by Interim Caltrans Director Bob Franzoia allocated $3.1 million for needed repairs to Highway 178, according to a Caltrans news release.

The highway cracked in three different areas within a four-mile stretch east of Ridgecrest. While crews made temporary fixes immediately following the earthquake, the permanent repairs will take until the end of the week to finish. Motorists can expect one-way traffic control while construction lasts.

Caltrans was also called to evaluate all bridges and highways in the area, and engineers have deemed all safe.

Ridgecrest and neighboring Trona were hit hard by the magnitude 7.1 quake that rocked the remote Mojave Desert towns Friday.

Roads in Ridgecrest were in good shape, electricity was back on and the water system was working, said Jed McLaughlin, chief of police for the town of 28,000. Buses planned to run again Monday.

But many in nearby Trona, a gateway for Death Valley, didn’t have water, and crews were still patching up cracked roads in the town of fewer than 2,000 people.

Residents lined up for free water that National Guard soldiers handed out at Trona High School.

Friday’s quake sparked several house fires, shut off power, snapped gas lines, cracked buildings and flooded some homes when water lines broke. Officials were still reviewing the damage to buildings.

It came a day after a magnitude 6.4 temblor hit the same patch of the desert Thursday.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after the larger quake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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