Fire-damaged section of I-10 in Los Angeles opens ahead of schedule

LA Mayor Karen Bass thanks workers who repaired the I-10 freeway
LA Mayor Karen Bass thanks workers who repaired the I-10 freeway
LA Mayor's Office

A section of Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles damaged by fire Nov. 11 reopened today, fully a day ahead of schedule and much earlier than originally expected. In addition, investigators are seeking the public's help in identifying "a person of interest" in connection with the, which has been determined to be arson. 

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Vice President Kamala Harris, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom Sunday announced the I-10 freeway would reopen before today's morning rush hour traffic due to urgent action and collaboration taken over the past week. The officials all praised the crews who worked around the clock to repair the elevated section of the freeway damaged by the fire that spread over eight acres and damaged some 100 support pillars under the freeway.   

“The 10 will be safe to drive on weeks ahead of schedule because of urgent action and collaboration at all levels of government. When we work together, nothing can stop Los Angeles,” said Bass at a press conference Sunday. “Right when this happened, I heard from our state and federal partners that they would let nothing stand in our way. The White House and the Governor’s office not only lived up to that promise, they helped us exceed all expectations."

“The work that happened here is extraordinary. It was possible with the will and ambition of the workers on the ground, and their commitment as public servants and as union members to get this done and deliver for the people of Los Angeles,” said Vice President Harris. “This is the kind of work that is happening around the country - where hard-working men and women, carpenters, laborers and government workers, are rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Thank you to those workers for your commitment to the country.”

Gov. Newsom said, “Thanks to the tireless 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.”

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A statement from the mayor's office said the reopening of the I-10 freeway follows extensive tests conducted by Caltrans to ensure the safety of the 300,000 motorists driving across it every day. The concrete and temporary supports have undergone testing to ensure the bridge can bear weight safely while construction continues. 

In addition to repairing the columns, engineers will fortify the bridge with additional steel reinforcements to make it stronger than it was before the fire last week, according to the mayor's statement.

The cost of the repairs will be covered by $3 million in federal funds.

Investigators said Saturday they’re seeking the public's help locating a “person of interest” in connection with the arson fire. They released two photos in a “crime alert notification” on social media showing a man in his 30s with a brace on his right knee and apparent burn injuries on his left leg.

The photographs were released by Cal Fire and the State Fire Marshal, whose office is investigating the blaze. Officials did not say how he was identified.