A major Los Angeles freeway that was scorched in a weekend blaze will not require demolition — and may be able to reopen in three to five weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Tuesday.
“We will not need to demolish and replace the I-10,” the governor said at a Tuesday morning press conference, referring to Interstate 10.
“Shoring work will continue 24-7, and it will allow us to reopen for traffic the I-10 in a matter of weeks,” he added.
The early Saturday morning fire, which Newsom said on Monday was likely caused by arson, occurred in a storage yard just south of downtown Los Angeles, under an elevated portion of the freeway.
While firefighters were able to battle most of the blaze on Saturday, structural damage necessitated a full closure of a one-mile freeway stretch between the East LA Interchange and Alameda Street.
This portion of the I-10 has an average daily traffic volume of 287,500 vehicles, according to an emergency proclamation issued by Newsom on Saturday.
After receiving laboratory analyses of core samples from the freeway’s upper deck, Newsom announced that the results were promising — positive enough to avoid a full demolition.
About 100 columns were damaged in the fire — nine or 10 severely — but continuous shoring work should enable the freeway’s reopening within three to five weeks, according to the governor.
“This is good news under the circumstance,” Newsom said, noting that the necessary materials and workforce are all readily available.
The governor also reported that evaluations of debris from the site indicate that nothing was highly contaminated, aside from a modest amount of lead released by burning vehicles. Investigators found “no stored materials that were toxic and no surprises on site,” he added.
Nonetheless, Newsom stressed that his office is continuing to probe the site’s lessee, Apex Development Inc., which he said has an unlawful detainer on this property and on four others.
“We brought down our legal team that is here and we’re looking at every conceivable pathway to move to expedite removal of this lessee on all the remaining sites,” he said.
The governor advised residents track the construction progress and hold officials accountable, via https://fixthe10.ca.gov/, which will have real-time site monitoring by the weekend.
“There’ll be three to four camera angles, so that you can watch this operation unfold, again, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until this thing gets done,” Newsom added.
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