LA Freeway Closed Indefinitely After Fire

Los Angeles drivers were required to find alternative travel routes as authorities continue to assess the structural damage to part of Interstate 10 in downtown LA after a fire on November 4 forced its closure, the New York Times reported.

All lanes of Interstate 10 will be closed indefinitely along a 2-mile stretch, according to the state’s transportation department Caltrans. It remains unclear how long repairs to the freeway will take.

The 2-mile stretch is one of the “largest arteries” into and out of downtown LA, just west of the interchange where several freeways merge in East Los Angeles.

Governor Newsom said in a press conference on Sunday that around 300,000 vehicles use that stretch of freeway daily. It is also a major conduit that connects Southern California ports to the rest of the country, with around 20,000 trucks moving through that stretch every day.

Fire broke out in the early morning of November 6 at a storage yard filled with abandoned cars, shipping containers, wooden pallets, and car parts. Over 160 firefighters were called to extinguish the fire which quickly spread to a second storage yard causing damage to about 400 feet of Interstate 10, according to Governor Newsom.

The fire damaged nearly 100 supporting columns, melted guardrails, and caused chunks of concrete to drop from the overpass.

The governor said the state had to assess the damage to the infrastructure of the freeway, explaining that it isn’t the visible damage that is the problem. “It’s what lies underneath.”

According to Newsom while the investigation into the cause of the fire was expected to be completed by last Monday, structural engineers will then begin their deeper assessment of the damage to Interstate 10.

The indefinite closure prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass compared the structural damage to Interstate 10 to the 1994 earthquake when Caltrans was forced to work “around the clock” to make repairs to LA’s freeways.