The I-10 Freeway is slated to reopen five lanes by next Tuesday just before Thanksgiving and weeks ahead of schedule, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
"This is a good day in Los Angeles," said Mayor Karen Bass.
Gov. Newsom announced the unexpected news during a press conference Thursday evening, a few days after aforced the closure of the 10 Freeway. All five lanes in both directions of the major thoroughfare will be open on Nov. 21 at the latest.
The freeway remains closed in both directions between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, with the closure also affecting connectors to I-5 and the U.S. 101 and SR-60 freeways, as crews work around the clock to repair the freeway by Tuesday.
A new website was created for commuters to see the latest updates on repairs along with live cameras to track the progress.
Officials said roughly 300,000 commuters regularly use the 10 Freeway, making it one of the busiest freeway corridors in the country.
"Losing this stretch of the 10 Freeway will take time and money from people's lives and businesses," Bass said. "It's disrupting in every way ... So, I will not settle for anything other than a rebuilding plan and a timeline that becomes a new model for speed."
Commuters were already warned to expect delays on Sunday, as the major thoroughfare is one of the largest arteries to get to and from downtown Los Angeles.
In a 10 a.m. press conference update, officials said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the closure. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg had also been briefed about the situation.
"What I am keenly aware of is the massive impact both on local, regional, and even national stakeholders here," said Shailen Bhatt, federal highway administrator. "There's a lot of goods that come through the ports of LA and Long Beach. They will be impacted."
During a press conference late Sunday afternoon, 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.
The devastation left behind by the fire prompted 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.
"This challenge on the I-10 is the number one priority for the governor," Toks Omishakin, the California Secretary of Transportation, 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."
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."
Laura Rubio-Cornejo, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said that the best option for those traveling to and from the area is public transit. She primarily suggested utilizing the Metro rail system, which will allow people to completely avoid the impacted area.
Commuter Express buses will operate without fares until the end of the year.
"If traveling in or around downtown LA, your best option is to travel by public transit, particularly by Metro rail," she said. "If you are driving and your route requires you to pass downtown LA ... please stay on the freeway. There are other routes that you can use including the 5, the 101 and the 110 freeways to circumvent the closure."
Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro and chair of the Metro Board, advised that trips can be planned on Metro's website, which provides a detailed map of how to get to and from various locations. Additionally, travelers can receive up-to-the-minute information by calling (323) GO-METRO (466-3876).
Metrolink expanded services on its San Bernardino Line by adding four weekday trains traveling between L.A. and Covina. An additional train will provide roundtrip service between Union Station and Rancho Cucamonga in the evening.
Drivers using eastbound lanes are advised to:
- Exit the freeway at Alameda Street and 16th Street.
In order to get back to the I-10 if necessary, they should:
- Head northbound on Alameda, eastbound on Olympic Boulevard and re-enter on the approach to Lemon Street.
- Alternatively, head northbound on Alameda, eastbound on 7th Street and enter the I-5 Freeway.
Drivers using westbound lanes are advised to:
- Travel west on Washington Boulevard, north on Central Avenue and west again on 16th Street.
Detours will be conducted in the following areas:
- Eastbound I-10 will be diverted at Alameda Street,
- Westbound 60 will be diverted to northbound I-5 or northbound 101,
- Southbound I-5 will be diverted onto the westbound I-10 but must take the first exit at Mateo Street,
- Northbound I-5 must divert to the northbound 101.
Additionally, traffic officers will be positioned throughout the area near impacted schools, starting at 7 a.m. and lasting until 9 a.m, and again from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. as students are released from school.
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