The 10 Freeway will reopen by next week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference Thursday.
“One thing we can guarantee you is we will be open, five lanes in both directions, at the latest, Tuesday of next week,” Newsom said.
Newsom credited the tireless and continuous work of repair crews who have been working around the clock to get the busy roadway back open to traffic.
“With the extraordinary work of the men and women you see behind me, the carpenters, laborers, teamsters, the cement masons, 32 carpenters on site in the last 24 hours … they got ahead two days on the debris removal allowed moving more quickly to retrofit the structure you see behind me,” Newsom said.
The announcement was made Thursday evening during a Los Angeles press conference hosted by local and state officials.
Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass were among the speakers. Both elected officials have promised regular and timely updates regarding the closure, which has crippled traffic in and out of downtown for several days and was initially expected to remain in place for several weeks.
Earlier this week, Newsom said engineers had evaluated the integrity of the pillars that elevate the heavily trafficked roadway and determined it would not need to be demolished, rather it could be shored up and repaired in three to five weeks.
That estimation turned out to be on the conservative side.
“This is a good day in Los Angeles,” Bass said enthusiastically to the crowd of assembled media members, officials and members of the public.
Bass thanked L.A. residents for their cooperation during the inconvenient and unexpected closure, adding her appreciation for those who decided to work from home or utilize public transportation to maintain their busy schedules.
“The last few days have been difficult, but everyone has cooperated and I want to thank you,” Bass said.
Both Newsom and Bass also praised the partnership between state and local leaders, with the governor referring to Bass as one of the “most hands-on mayors” in the country. “She has proven that she can meet any moment and we couldn’t be any more proud,” Newsom said.
Bass said she greatly appreciated the time the governor has spent going back and forth to Los Angeles throughout the shutdown.
“All of the stars have been aligned on behalf of Angelenos,” Bass said, paraphrasing a Caltrans official.
Questions, however, still linger about the exact cause of the fire and the state of the criminal investigation surrounding it.
On Monday, Newsom was joined by California Fire Marshall Daniel Berlant who confirmed that the blaze was suspected to have been intentionally set.
Newsom has repeatedly mentioned a specific company that was leasing the area below the freeway, calling the company “bad actors,” and adding that the state was involved in ongoing litigation against it.
The company has been identified as Apex Development Inc., which subleased some of its space to various businesses. The legality of those subleases is under a bit of scrutiny.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Caltrans inspectors and local fire officials conducted regular visits to the site. The company’s attorney told the Times that any claims from government officials that it was unaware of the subleasing activity were false.
Instead, the company’s attorney laid the blame on the local homeless population that lived near the site, claiming that operators of the space repeatedly made calls to report homeless fires, which they allege were brushed off.
The fire was first reported early Saturday around 12:30 a.m. near East 14th and Alameda streets underneath the freeway. It engulfed both sides of 14th Street underneath the 10, eventually melting some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and damaging fire trucks.
The blaze ripped through a pallet yard, causing dense plumes of smoke and limiting visibility throughout the area. When the fire was extinguished, it was discovered that as many as 100 pillars were seriously damaged.
Newsom and Bass both ensured that the 10 Freeway repairs were of the highest priority at both the state and local levels, with repairs taking place around the clock.
On Wednesday, he announced that emergency contractors were able to completely clear the site of hazardous materials left behind by the fire.
With that cleanup completed, structural engineers and repair crews now have unfettered access to the site, which was a crucial piece of the critical repair puzzle.