Disastrous Highway Breakdown

February 9, 1971, Sylmar, CA (Al Markado - photographer)

The San Fernando earthquake occurred in 1971 with a magnitude of 6.6. The Newhall Pass infrastructure project which is located northwest of the San Fernando Valley in Weldon Canyon and less than eight miles from two other major freeway interchanges, prompted Councilman Donald Lorenzen to criticize conglomeration of freeways and connectors as “putting too many eggs in one basket.” The majority of damage to freeway structures during the “Sylmar Quake” ranged from minor cracking and slanting to the complete destruction of major sections of the interchange bridges. The San Fernando earthquake caused approximately 65 deaths, up to 1,000 personal injuries, and resulted in over 500 million dollars in damages. The Newhall Pass was rebuilt and finished in 1973 with the institution of new earthquake safety standards and additional steel rebar reinforcement. However, twenty-one years later the Newhall Pass Interchange would collapse again in almost the exact same location during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Leave a Reply