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TXDOT explains reason for Saturday I-10 closure

The westbound lanes of I-10 were shut down for about four hours near the Sunland Park Exit for emergency work on the Paisano bridge that's being built.

Saturday's windy weather is being blamed for the traffic nightmare in west El Paso over the weekend.

The westbound lanes of I-10 were shut down for about four hours near the Sunland Park Exit for emergency work on the Paisano bridge that's being built.

TXDOT said the plywood scaffolding boards began to come loose in the gusty winds.

While they're secured strongly enough to hold men and equipment on them, the winds were coming in so strong and lifting them from underneath," said Jennifer Wright, spokesperson for TXDOT. "We actually did have plywood blow off into the arroyo adjacent to the bridge and immediately understood that this could be a public safety issue."

The closure lasted four hours while crews removed the plywood to prevent any other boards from being blown off.

Wright said the site and equipment was up to standards and the boards were secured properly, but the gusty winds created very unusual circumstances.

"Everything that they're using is approved, and under typical circumstances would be perfectly fine," she said. "But those winds that we experienced on Saturday were unusually strong winds, even for our area."

Wright said crews removed all the boards before re-opening the Interstate. She said workers will likely re-attach and secure those boards during the already scheduled overnight closures this week.

"We err on the side of caution, and we apologize for any inconvenience that the unannounced closure of I-10 west might have caused people on Saturday, but better safe than sorry," she said.

Suzette Cortez was one of the unlucky drivers stuck in the gridlock Saturday.

"It was really bad, and it was scary too because of all the cars," she said. "People stop out of nowhere and you can't turn left or right, you can't go anywhere, you can't exit. There was a bunch of honking everywhere and it was horrible."

But Cortez said after learning the reason behind the closure, she's glad TXDOT crews did it.

"Knowing that now, that things were blowing off and stuff, yeah it's good that they're fixing it actually, even though it was really inconvenient," she said.

TXDOT wants to emphasize the bridge structure itself is secure and sturdy. It said it was just the scaffolding that was coming loose.

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