LA’s I-10 to reopen Tuesday, Newsom says

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Dive Brief

The California governor credited around-the-clock work and better-than-expected core sample results for the expedited timeline.

Published Nov. 17, 2023

An aerial view shows workers walking on the closed I-10 freeway following a large pallet fire in Los Angeles.

An aerial view shows workers walking on the closed I-10 freeway on Nov. 13 in Los Angeles. The freeway will reopen Tuesday, weeks earlier than previously expected.

Mario Tama via Getty Images

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Dive Brief:

  • A heavily traveled section of Interstate 10 damaged by fire last week in Los Angeles will reopen by Tuesday, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and not in three-to-five weeks as previously estimated. 
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement Thursday that with emergency crews working 24 hours a day, the California DOT, or Caltrans, determined that all five lanes of traffic in both directions can safely reopen to passenger and commercial truck traffic next week. 
  • “The state is on track to open the 10 before millions of Angelenos hit the road for Thanksgiving,” Newsom said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the crews working around the clock to safely repair the 10 so we can get Los Angeles’ traffic moving in days instead of weeks.”

Dive Insight:

The news of the earlier opening comes after officials initially thought the 450-foot section of elevated freeway, where approximately 100 columns were damaged by an intense fire that started in a storage yard underneath it on Nov. 11, would need to be demolished. 

But Newsom walked that possibility back on Tuesday, saying that the freeway could reopen in three-to-five weeks after testing of core samples showed the damage wasn’t as extensive as it first appeared. The New York Times playfully captured that shifting timeline with the headline, “Surprise! Los Angeles Freeway to Reopen Next Week, Newsom Says.

Although the roadway, which serves as a vital artery for cargo shipments from the nearby ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, will reopen next week, repairs and construction will likely continue at the site for months, the governor’s office said. 

Caltrans workers are also seizing on the traffic-free opportunity over the next several days to carry out a “swarm” maintenance operation — sweeping, repairing bridge railings and broken concrete, painting over graffiti, cleaning drains and culverts, removing litter, weeds and overgrown vegetation and sealing broken access doors.

In June, a tanker truck that caught fire under I-95 in Philadelphia caused a similar closure. While initial estimates for the repair timeline there spanned months, the section also reopened earlier than expected, in about two weeks.