‘Transportation Crisis!’ Part of Interstate 10 in DTLA is Closed Indefinitely After Massive Blaze | VIDEO Report


*CALIFORNIA (KCAL KCBS) — Los Angeles city leaders gathered Monday morning to address the destructive storage yard fire that has forced the indefinite closure of the I-10 Freeway, making clear that there are actions underway to ease the expected traffic nightmares that will inevitably come along with it.

The freeway remains closed in both directions between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, with the closure also affecting connectors to Interstate 5 and the 101 and 60 freeways.

Officials said roughly 300,000 commuters regularly use the 10 Freeway, making it one of the busiest freeway corridors in the country.

In a press conference, Mayor Karen Bass said thousands of people were notified through mobile alerts, the Nextdoor app, and an Instagram Live that Bass hosted about the closures and alternate routes.

LA Mayor Karen Bass on Pallet fire that closed down I-10 freeway indefinitely
LA Mayor Karen Bass on Pallet fire that closed down I-10 freeway indefinitely / screenshot

“Please also consider transit,” said Mayor Bass. “You can find that information at metro.net or call 5-1-1 to find the route most convenient for you.”

Commuters have already been warned to expect delays, as the major thoroughfare acts as one of the largest arteries to get to and from downtown Los Angeles.

“It is all hands on deck for everybody in state government,” said Toks Omishakin, California State Transportation Secretary during the press conference Monday morning.

Omishakin added that there is a team of structural engineers assessing the area.

“Our maintenance and structural folks are doing work, getting core samples of the structure to see what full condition the bridge is in and the columns,” he added.

LA Mayor Karen Bass on Pallet fire that closed down I-10 freeway indefinitely / screenshot
LA Mayor Karen Bass on Pallet fire that closed down I-10 freeway indefinitely / screenshot

During a press conference late Sunday afternoon, LA Mayor Karen Bass provided additional information for Angelenos to reference while planning their morning commutes, directing them to the city’s Emergency Management Department.

“Our top line message is this: if you are driving through downtown, stay on the freeway and take the route around,” Bass said.

She asked businesses located in the impacted areas to consider allowing employees to work from home as the situation develops, hopeful that it will ease the unavoidable gridlock looming.

“We are also hoping for downtown businesses to join us and lean in on work-from-home policies to help alleviate traffic,” Bass said. “I know we’ve spent this time trying to encourage people to come back downtown and come back into their offices, but while we are going through this crisis, we would like for employers who can have their staff work remotely to do so.”

It’s estimated that the massive blaze burnt up to 100 columns underneath the freeway, and the most pressing question is whether the freeway deck itself will need to be replaced in the coming days.

I-10 LA pallet fire (Caltrans District 7-AP)
I-10 LA pallet fire (Caltrans District 7-AP)

Though there’s no timetable as to when the freeway will be reopened, Bass said that recovery and repair efforts were already underway.

“I want to ensure Angelenos that we are working night and day to make the repairs necessary to restore the freeway,” she said. “This is not going to be resolved in one or two days. … As we are learning the extent of the damage, we will keep you informed. But we need to stay together.”

The devastation left behind by the fire prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to issue a State of Emergency for the area in order to acquire the necessary funds and resources to handle the situation as quickly as possible.

Toks Omishakin, the California Secretary of Transportation, discussed the statewide efforts already underway on Sunday.

“This challenge on the I-10 is the number one priority for the governor,” Omishakin said. “He’s asked for a 24-7 operation from all state agencies involved in any kind of way, from CalFire to Caltrans to CHP, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach.”

I-10 LA pallet fire (Caltrans District 7-AP)
I-10 LA pallet fire (Caltrans District 7-AP)

Omishakin said that Caltrans has secured a $3 million emergency contract to bring in a contractor in order to “test and clear hazardous material, handle freeway and road closures and conduct possible restoration of the structure.”

Bass said that city officials will take a three-pronged approach to handling the issue, starting with making sure that a plan is in place for commuters heading into the impacted area. They will also work on making sure the road is reopened for travelers as quickly as possible, focusing on safety. Additionally, they will continue to provide the public with as many updates as possible to ensure that all are informed every step of the way.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also spoke at the press conference, making clear that no schools were expected to be closed on Monday.

“We’re going to try to provide students with a degree of normalcy,” he said. “Not only educationally speaking.

A lot of our students, due to their socioeconomic conditions depend on the breakfast and lunch and enrichment activities that we provide as a school system.”

I-10 LA pallet fire (Richard Vogel-AP)
I-10 LA pallet fire (Richard Vogel-AP)

Carvalho indicated that several schools will likely experience a significant impact on students and staff as they arrive and leave school, including:

Para Los Niños Elementary School,
9th Street/Para Los Niños Middle School,
20th Street Elementary School,
28th Street Elementary School,
Metropolitan Continuation High School,
Inner City Arts,
St. Turibius Catholic.
“We transport an excess of 40,000 students a day, particularly students with disabilities and those within magnet schools,” he said. “We expect some degree of delay impacting a significant number of students throughout the day tomorrow and over the next days or perhaps weeks.”

Click here for updates on this story

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