Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass provided an update Tuesday night on what commuters can expect after a massive fire shut down the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles.
“We got good news today,” Bass said. “At this point, we do not anticipate that the freeway is coming down. It can be repaired. This is going to be an inconvenience of weeks as opposed to months. I’m hoping those individuals who can work from home will stay home, and those individuals who have to come into town will ride Metro.”
Officials announced that all commuter express buses will be free through the end of the year to help ease travel strains.
At a press conference early Wednesday morning, city officials noted that there has been a steady increase in traffic on surrounding freeways and surface streets.
According to Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Infrastructure Randall Winston, crews are working on increasing the speed of Metrolink trains in addition to improving speeds on the Metro E line.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency following the destructive fire.
Newsom described the fire as being set with “malice intent,” saying the incident appeared to be an act of arson.
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 and quickly spread to neighboring storage yards while engulfing both sides of 14th Street underneath the 10.
The flames melted some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and damaged firetrucks, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A homeless encampment underneath an overpass was forced to evacuate as flames engulfed the area and chunks of supporting concrete columns collapsed.
On Tuesday morning, Bass and Newsom said the portions of the damaged freeway could reopen within three to five weeks.
“Union crews are working 24/7 to finish removing the extensive debris & shore up pillars,” Newsom shared on an update post to X, formerly Twitter.
As crews work on clearing the charred debris, Newsom said state transportation officials have removed 2,500 cubic yards of debris which, for reference, is enough to cover the Crypto.com Arena basketball court 200 times over.
While the investigation into the arson continues, the structural integrity of some damaged areas appeared to be stronger than initially assessed and no demolition will be required during the repair process, Newsom said.
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
Bass has encouraged residents to either carpool, telecommute or use public transportation during this time, as up to 300,000 commuters could be affected.
“If you need to drive on the 10, please STAY on the freeway and use an interchange at either the 5, the 110 or the 101,” Bass said.
She noted that following GPS apps that divert drivers onto surface streets is not recommended at this time as the move will leave streets an “absolute parking lot,” she said.
Bass also noted the rain storms expected on Wednesday will exacerbate travel issues so drivers should consider either staying home or considering public transit.
LAFD crews will be surveying other locations where storage may be kept underneath freeways to mitigate risks of another similar blaze from starting.
“The city is working to reduce the risk to make sure this never happens again,” Bass said.
The arson investigation continues and CAL FIRE officials are reviewing surveillance footage in search of the suspect or suspects involved.
Both Metrolink and L.A. Metro have expanded service options to ease travel strains during this time.
Residents can stay updated on road closures, alternate routes and general repair updates from Caltrans at the city’s Emergency Management Department website.
Along with Bass, remarks were given by L.A. Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley, General Manager of the Department of Transportation Laura Rubio-Cornejo, and Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins.
The full press conference can seen in the video player.