An elevated section of Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles that was damaged last weekend by a massive fire underneath it is expected to reopen Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving Day, the city’s mayor and California’s governor said in a joint statement Thursday.
The reopening of that portion of the highway, which officials say sees more than 300,000 daily drivers, would come just 10 days after Saturday’s fire, meaning repairs will have finished well ahead of previous estimates. The reopening would alleviate traffic snags in the city just as many people undertake or prepare for holiday travel.
“This is what happens when we work with urgency. This is what happens when we come together. I want to make sure that there are no barriers to completely finishing the repair and that when the freeway opens up it will be completely safe,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a news release.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom had said it would take three to five weeks for repairs to be completed.
“By working together with our federal and local partners and making this a 24/7 operation, the state is on track to open the 10 before millions of Angelenos hit the road for Thanksgiving,” Newsom said. “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.”
Officials believe the fire was arson, the state fire marshal and the governor have said, and investigators still are trying to determine who is responsible.
The state fire marshal, Daniel Berlant, said earlier this week that it was unclear how many people were involved and urged people to contact authorities if they have information. The state fire marshal’s office was still investigating how the fire started, Berlant said.
A preliminary investigation determined the fire was started with “malice intent” and was “set intentionally,” Newsom said Monday. Some preliminary tips have already been submitted, he added.
The storage yard where the fire was ignited was scattered with pallets, trailers and vehicles, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Wind eventually pushed the blaze under the freeway and across the street, where flames consumed a second storage facility.
Some vehicles were destroyed in the fire, and crews fended off the flames from nearby commercial buildings, officials have said. At the time, officials said no injuries were reported.