Mayor Bass along with officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Department of Transportation, Metro and the L.A. Fire Department updated the public Sunday on the massive fire that has indefinitely closed the 10 Freeway in downtown L.A.
Officials said that they wanted to prepare the public for significant delays in the coming days weeks as all lanes within a two mile stretch of the I-10 downtown are closed until further notice.
The blaze was first reported around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning in a storage yard near East 14th and Alameda streets. Flames quickly spread to a neighboring storage yard and eventually engulfed the freeway overpass above.
The fire was so hot that it melted some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and concrete pillars, fire officials said. It eventually spread to eight acres before being contained.
Gov. Newsom declared a local state of emergency on Saturday, and on Sunday, it was announced that the freeway would remain closed until further notice.
Mayor Bass opened Sunday’s second press conference by encouraging Angelenos who need to drive through downtown to stay on the freeways and take alternate routes. Those planning their routes should visit the city’s Emergency Management Department Website.
“In addition to encouraging Angelenos to take important precautions, we are also hoping for downtown businesses to join us and lean in on work from home policies to help alleviate traffic,” Mayor Bass said. “I know we’ve spent this time encouraging people to come back downtown, back into their offices, but while we are going through this crisis, we would employers who can have their staff work remotely to do so.”
Bass added the city’s strategy in dealing with the fire’s aftermath is three-pronged. One is to ensure that there is a plan for Angelenos who commute downtown or live in the area where the fire occurred. The next step is working to get the 10 Freeway up and running again as fast and as safely as possible, and finally, to provide as much updated information as possible to ensure that the community and commuters are well informed every step of the way.
According to Laura Rubio-Cornejo, general manager of L.A.’s Department of Transportation, the best option for Angelenos traveling in or around downtown L.A. is public transit, particularly Metro rail which allows riders to entirely avoid the impacted areas. Trips can be planned by using Metro’s website.
For drivers whose routes require them to pass downtown L.A., there are alternate routes that can be used, including I-5, the 101 and 110 freeways to circumvent the closures.
“On surface streets with impacted areas, we will have positioned traffic officers to provide direction to motorists and have implemented limited direction-based closures to minimize traffic impacts,” Rubio-Cornejo said. “
Some 18 traffic officers will be positioned near impacted schools between the hours of 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., she added. An additional 10 traffic officers will be deployed in the immediate impacted area and more resources can be brought in as needed.
L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said that all LAUSD schools will be open Monday. The superintendent identified several schools that in the impacted area that will be significantly impacted by the I-10 closure, including 9th Street Elementary, 20th Street Elementary, Metropolitan Continuation High School, Inner City Arts and Para Los Ninos Charter.
LAUSD transports an estimated 40,000 students a day, many with disabilities, to local schools with many of them traveling through downtown to get to their destination.
“We expect some degree of delay impacting a significant number of students throughout the day tomorrow and the next days or, perhaps, weeks, depending on the pace of repair through the freeway,” Carvalho said.
For any questions parents may have, they can call 1-800-LA BUSES (800-522-8737).
L.A. Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said that in order for riders to avoid issues with the closure, they need to plan ahead, share the ride and stay on top of real-time updates provided by Metro.
“Metro will continue to provide both bus and rail service for those that need to get to downtown L.A. or through downtown L.A.,” Wiggins said.
Bus Line 66 is the only bus line that Metro anticipates will be operating on a detour.
“We have a significant amount of rail service,” Wiggins added. “Our E Line runs for 22 miles. It essentially parallels the 10 Freeway between East Los Angeles and Santa Monica with 29 stations. We also have our A line with 48.5 miles with 44 stations from Azusa to Long Beach. It’s also an alternative to the 110 and 210 freeways.”
Riders coming from the Inland Empire and Orange County to or through downtown L.A., Metro suggests taking Metrolink San Bernardino or Riverside line or Orange County line into Union Station. There, riders can connect to A, B and D lines or a number of bus lines to get where they need to go.
“Our partner, Metrolink, is adding more service in response to this closure. Specifically, they are adding six round trips between Covina and Union Station, and they are also adding railcars on the San Bernardino line beginning tomorrow morning,” Wiggins said.
For bus lines east of L.A., there’s the Silve Line, line 10 and 950, which travels from El Monte to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center in San Pedro. There are also lines 487 and 489 that travel from the Sierra Madre Station in the Pasadena area all the way to downtown L.A.
“Parallel to those, we have Line 76, on Valley north of the 10, and Line 70 on Garvey south of the 10,” Wiggins said.
Officials said that another press conference would be held Monday morning for additional updates.
“I would just appeal to Angelenos, this is going to be a minute,” Mayor Bass said. “This is not going to be a day or so and we need to stick together to be as informed as possible. We know that about 300,000 people drive through that route on those freeways every day. So, that’s why it’s going to take massive cooperation for us to get through this.”
The following interchanges are either being diverted or are completely shut down:
- 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 Avenue
- The eastbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Alameda Street
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Santa Fe Avenue
For detailed maps, detour information, and updated information, Angelenos are encouraged to visit the city’s website by following this link.