Mystery bridge over the San Jacinto River

On Sunday, June 16, I went on a motorcycle ride out toward Palm Springs. On Hwy 74 just east of Hemet, I stopped to inspect an abandoned concrete arch bridge to the side of the current bridge. The “new” span, where Hwy 74 crosses today, was built in 1929. This makes the abandoned span most likely from the 1910’s. It appears to have been longer, though the rest is long since washed away. I originally saw this bridge on a previous motorcycle ride, having missed it on every driving trip through here. It just goes to show that you see more on two wheels – be they motorcycle or bicycle wheels.

Last remaining arch
Last remaining arch
Evidence the bridge continued west. It looks like there may have been an additional arch span.
Evidence the bridge continued west. It looks like there may have been an additional arch span.
Looking east across the bridge deck toward current Hwy 74.
Looking east across the bridge deck toward current Hwy 74.
Current 1929 bridge across the river. Abandoned span is about 50 feet to the left.
Current 1929 bridge across the river. Abandoned span is about 50 feet to the left.
Detail of the railing on the bridge. Note the 90 degree end to the railing instead of the curved ends used later.
Detail of the railing on the bridge. Note the 90 degree end to the railing instead of the curved ends used later.

After leaving the bridge, I headed east on Hwy 74 up into the mountains. The roadway was recently repaved, which was badly needed. The new pavement was quite fun to ride, even with the extra twisty passing areas. The tires seemed to grip the road better allowing me to ride faster than I did before. I didn’t originally plan to go all the way to Palm Springs, but somehow I decided “Why Not?” and did it anyway. It was rather hot while I was there, so I didn’t stay long. Leaving town was almost as difficult as dealing with the heat. Strong west winds, typical for the area, were blowing and made riding somewhat unnerving at times. The winds finally subsided once I got to the Beaumont area and temperatures decreased quite a bit as well.

Seven Level Hill on Hwy 74 heading into Palm Desert.
Seven Level Hill on Hwy 74 heading into Palm Desert.

April 2010 Baja Earthquake – Part 1

On April 4, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake struck the northern Baja California and Southern California region. I was in Oceanside at a friends house at the time. Initially, I didn’t feel it and thought the others at the party were joking. We had been talking about the Northridge Earthquake earlier in the day. Once I stepped out onto the patio, I felt the ground moving. I knew it was large but farther away. My first thought was – What just happened to Los Angeles? Instead of Los Angeles, it was the Mexicali/Calexico area that got hit the worst as it was much closer to the epicenter.

Map showing the earthquake and affected area.
Map showing the earthquake and affected area.

Wanting to survey the damage to the roadways in that area and see if any of the old bridges were damaged, I headed out the following weekend. As it was also springtime, parts of the desert were in bloom. The ocotillo in particular had a beautiful display of flowers. To get out there, I followed Hwy 80 out to the Desert View Tower. After talking with Ben, the owner, I headed out to Calexico following Hwy 80 and Hwy 98. I was hoping to see cracks in Hwy 98 from any fault movement but did not find any.

Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
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Closeup of the blooms.

In Calexico, many buildings were damaged with a large portion of the older downtown area closed off until the buildings could be stabilized. The biggest damage I saw was at a hotel in the northwestern end of downtown. Parts of the walls and roof had collapsed.

An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.

Returning from Calexico, I stopped at a few bridges to see the fill on each side had settled, causing some cracking in the pavement. Additional cracks were spotted at the New River crossing on old US 80. Overall, the highways were lightly damaged with some concrete broken at some bridges.

Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on Hwy 98.
Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.