Wednesday Commutes Snarled Across San Fernando Valley Amid Heavy Rain

The transition between the southbound 5 Freeway and eastbound 118 was scheduled was blocked for hours due to roadway flooding during Wednesday evening's commute as a powerful winter storm continued to create traffic woes for San Fernando Valley drivers.

The interchange in Pacoima was shut down about 3:30 pm. and reopened about 8:30 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said.

About 6 miles north of that interchange, the southbound 5 Freeway's truck lanes were closed at the transition with the 14 Freeway because of poor drainage that caused sheets of water to descend on the roadway during heavy rainfall. The closure would last through the night, Caltrans said.

Earlier on Wednesday, authorities urged motorists to avoid the northbound 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley after at least three crashes triggered SigAlerts across the region amid heavy rains.

Caltrans said a three-vehicle collision involving a big rig near De Soto Avenue in Woodland Hills has created a four-mile long backup.

The California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert for the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 lanes in that area just after 6 a.m. The agency initially announced that the lanes would remain inaccessible to commuters for at least an hour. But at 8 a.m., Caltrans said the incident would obstruct traffic for an unknown duration.

The big rig had hit the center divider and blocked those lanes, Sky5 footage around 6:45 a.m. showed. Crews several feet back were seen towing a white sedan. Behind that vehicle, a pickup truck appeared disabled with damages to its front hood.

The agency had also issued a 5:30 a.m. SigAlert west of that collision, near Parkway Calabasas.

According to CHP records, a big rig appeared to have caught fire and blocked all lanes in that section of the freeway. Although the flames were extinguished before 5:25 a.m., the lanes did not fully reopen until about 11 a.m.

Earlier, the agency also shut down the No. 1 lane near Vineland Avenue in the Studio City area due to another crash.

Rush hour commuters faced the traffic jam as the National Weather Service issued flash flood watches across L.A. County, where showers were expected to continue but diminish throughout the afternoon.

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