The 10 Freeway, which was damaged by a fire, could reopen in three to five weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Tuesday press conference.
Newsom, who was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and other officials, said samples of the damaged freeway “show promise.”
“This will not be a demo. We will not need to demolish and replace the I-10. We will continue the kind of repairs you’re seeing being done behind me and continue a shoring plan to shore up this site,” Newsom said.
The fire was first reported early Saturday around 12:30 a.m. near East 14th and Alameda streets underneath the freeway. The blaze ripped through a pallet yard, causing dense plumes of smoke and limiting visibility throughout the area.
The freeway has been closed in both directions ever since, creating a traffic nightmare for hundreds of thousands of commuters with cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the streets around the freeway.
“Angelenos, it’s good news the freeway will not have to come down,” Bass said. “So instead of months, we’re talking about weeks, as the governor mentioned, three to five weeks. But it’s still three to five weeks in Los Angeles for this freeway not to be in operation. We hope, as he said, there may be partial operation before that time.”
The following closures will remain in place until further notice:
- Northbound 5 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- Southbound 5 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- Westbound 60 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Soto Street
- The eastbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Alameda Street
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Santa Fe Avenue
Given those closures, Bass encouraged people to telecommute or use public transportation, as up to 300,000 commuters could be forced to divert their journeys.
“Our streets cannot take that amount,” she said.
Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Los Angeles County over the weekend due to the fire, which investigators believe was intentionally set.
The governor described the fire as being set with “malice intent,” saying the fire burned within the fence line and appeared to be an act of arson.
California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin spoke Tuesday morning about whether people living in a number of homeless encampments under the freeway may have started the fire.
“Possibly. Just don’t want to speculate exactly on whether or not the pallets or people experiencing homelessness led to any of this … but that’s very possible,” Omishakin said.
The property was being leased by Apex Development Inc., which the governor said on Monday had fallen out of compliance.
“They stopped paying their rent, they’re out of compliance, and as was stated yesterday … they have been subleasing this site to at least five, maybe as many as six tenants, without authorization from Caltrans or authorization from our federal partners,” he said.
Newsom said he expects the case to be heard in court in early 2024.