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I-10 Bridge Collapse Might Not Be California's Last

Nick Ut / AP

Damage is seen from a washed out bridge near the town of Desert Center, Calif., along Interstate I-10, Monday, July 20, 2015. All traffic along one of the major highways connecting California and Arizona was blocked indefinitely when the bridge over

Nick Ut / AP

The Interstate 10 bridge collapse in the southern California desert during last weekend’s flash flooding is highlighting the vulnerability of the state’s roadways.

Flash flooding washed out a stretch of I-10 near Desert Center in southeastern California. And with a potential El Niño coming later this year, there could be a lot more flash floods up and down the state.

“That’s why it’s so important that we maintain our roads and all our drainage systems and try to keep them in tiptop order,” says Mark Dinger with CalTrans.

He says the state can never prevent all storm damage. But he says California’s six-billion-dollar-a-year highway maintenance backlog makes it even harder to keep up its preventive roadwork.

“It’s something we need to improve upon,“ Dinger says. “And to do that, we need to make up for the loss of declining gas tax revenue by coming up with a stable, long-term source of funding for our roads – or else they’re going to continue to deteriorate.”

Gov. Jerry Brown called a special session of the California Legislature last month to find money for that backlog. But lawmakers are split on whether to take existing money from other state programs or raise new revenues through gas taxes and vehicle fees.

The issue is expected to be a top priority when the Legislature returns from its summer recess next month.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio