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Hawthorn St. closure forces airport travelers to take detour

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Posted at 11:14 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 09:17:48-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Hawthorn Street exit from northbound Interstate 5, one of the main ways to get to San Diego International Airport, was reopened early Wednesday morning after a closure caused by a weekend water main break.

Caltrans officials had been hopeful that the exit would reopen in time for Wednesday morning's holiday travelers.

On Sunday, a broken water main sent gallons of water onto the roadway, forcing officials to shut down the typically busy stretch of I-5. With the Thanksgiving holiday just days away, the repair efforts led to a major traffic jam for many San Diego International Airport-bound travelers.

On Tuesday evening, ABC 10News was at the airport as it filled up with travelers or people helping with drop-offs or pickups.

"Liz goes to San Diego State, and it's her first time flying, so I'm just here to drop her off at the airport," Maritza Galvan said of her best friend's niece.

Galvan said she left 25 minutes earlier than normal because she knew her usual exit was still closed off due to the water main break that flooded I-5 Northbound on Sunday.

RELATED: Miles of aging water lines remain under San Diego

"The Hawthorn exit is the one I normally go on, but I already knew that there was going to be a delay with that," Galvan said.

Caltrans San Diego said for most of the day on Tuesday, crews were inspecting the pavement and cleaning culverts. As a detour, they directed everyone going to the airport to take the Sassafras Street exit.

Raymond T., who drove in from Chula Vista, said he was a little caught off guard.

"I was happy their flight got a little delayed because coming down the five right now, that exit to get off on Hawthorn ... no," Raymond said shaking his head.

He rushed to the airport to pick up his son and his daughter-in-law.

But it wasn't just the Hawthorn exit closure causing the traffic backup. AAA projects 4.4 million Southern Californians will travel at least 50 miles this holiday, up 16% compared to last year, and San Diego is the top destination in the region.

RELATED: Multiple water main breaks shut down downtown San Diego roadways

For Raymond, he was able to zip his way around the back streets.

"I know my way around the streets here of San Diego, so as far as getting here, I was able to move and groove and get how I needed to get here on time," said Raymond.

He said he is just happy to spend some quality time with his growing family.

"They're adulting. And this is the first Thanksgiving as husband and wife, so it's super dope. It's super precious," said Raymond.