10 Freeway to reopen early — in time for Monday morning commute

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Good news for Los Angeles commuters: A crucial tranche of the 10 Freeway south of downtown L.A. will reopen by Monday morning, a day earlier than previously expected — and weeks ahead of original projections.

The fire-scarred section of the roadway will be back in business for the earliest commuters of the week, probably reopening early Monday sometime after midnight, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. It could even open late Sunday night if conditions are safe, Newsom’s aides said. The freeway is usually one of the most used routes in the country, traveled by about 300,000 vehicles a day.

The governor is expected to formally announce the reopening Sunday morning alongside Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“The 10 is now safe to drive on weeks ahead of schedule because of urgent action and collaboration at all levels of government,” Bass said in a statement. “When we work together, nothing can stop Los Angeles.”

The section of freeway has been closed for more than a week, since a massive pallet fire broke out below it early Nov. 11.

The closure did not cause widespread gridlock across the city’s freeway system, but it has snarled traffic in parts of the city and created longer-than-normal commutes for hundreds of thousands of Angelenos. Preliminary data from transportation officials also suggest that the closure has prompted more Angelenos to take public transit, heeding calls from local officials.

“Thanks to the heroic work of Caltrans and union construction crews and with help from our partners — from the Mayor’s office to the White House — the 10’s expedited repair is proof and a point of pride that here in California, we deliver,” Newsom said in a statement.

Crews have been working around the clock to reopen the section of freeway, according to the governor’s office.

In immediate aftermath of the fire, there had been fears that the damaged section of freeway might have to be demolished and replaced, potentially putting it out of commission for a far longer duration. But within days, it became clear that the impaired section could, in fact, be repaired, and Newsom announced Tuesday that the freeway would reopen in three to five weeks.

An all-hands-on-deck scramble toward a more ambitious target paid off, with Newsom telling reporters Thursday that all lanes in both directions would be open to traffic by this coming Tuesday “at the latest.”

The freeway will now be fully open to traffic by Monday morning. There may be intermittent closures in the future — probably at night or on weekends — to finish some of the structural repair work, according to the governor’s office.

The fire is being investigated as an arson. The California Office of the State Fire Marshal on Saturday released a photo and description of a “person of interest” in connection with the fire.

Caltrans, the state transportation department that is part of Newsom’s administration, has long been aware of conditions under the freeway, where small businesses stored supplies including flammable wood pallets. Caltrans inspectors were on site as recently as Oct. 6, according to state officials, tenants and a lawyer for the company leasing the land.

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