A critical section of the 10 Freeway south of downtown Los Angeles reopened Sunday night, earlier than previously expected and several weeks earlier than originally expected.
According to the California Highway Patrol, traffic on the highway began around 7 p.m.
The mile-long stretch of highway between Alameda and Santa Fe streets had been closed for more than a week since a massive pallet fire broke out underneath it on Nov. 11. Approximately 300,000 vehicles use the expressway corridor every day.
Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass emphasized the urgent action and cooperation of local, state and federal officials and construction workers that made the expressway’s early opening possible. Repair crews have been working around the clock since the fire broke out.
“This is a great day for our city,” Bass said Sunday. “I would like to thank everyone who worked around the clock to make this initiative a reality.”
Bass spoke at a press conference Sunday morning on a freeway deck with Newsom, Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and others.
Although the closures did not cause widespread congestion across the city’s freeways, they disrupted traffic in parts of the city and made commutes longer than normal for hundreds of thousands of Angelenos. Preliminary data from transportation officials also suggests that the closures have led more Angelenos to heed calls from local officials and take public transportation.
“Thanks to the heroic work of Caltrans and union construction workers, and the support of our partners from the Mayor’s Office to the White House, 10’s of quick repairs are now available to us right here in California. It’s proof and it’s pride,” Newsom said. In a previous statement.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, there were concerns that damaged sections of the highway would have to be demolished and replaced, potentially rendering it inoperable for a much longer period of time. But within days, it became clear that the damaged sections could, in fact, be repaired, and Newsom announced Tuesday that the highway would reopen in three to five weeks.
In an all-out scramble toward a more ambitious goal, Newsom told reporters last week that all lanes in both directions would be open to traffic “by Tuesday of this week at the latest.” And even that prediction paid off with the lanes reopening Sunday night, well ahead of the holiday weekend.
“Dear Angelenos, I just want to say this: Starting tomorrow, you’ll be commuting back to work. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone,” Harris said at a Sunday morning press conference.
The fire is being investigated as arson. The Cal Fire Marshal’s Office on Saturday released a photo and description of a “person of interest” in connection with the fire.
The state transportation agency, Caltrans, which is part of the Newsom administration, has long been aware of conditions under highways where small businesses are storing flammable wooden pallets and other supplies. Caltrans inspectors were on site until Oct. 6, according to state officials, tenants and attorneys for the company leasing the land.