The section of Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles, which suffered significant fire damage over the weekend, is set to undergo repairs. California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engineers have determined that the elevated highway does not need replacement.
During a press conference at the site on Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated, “This will not be a demo. We will not need to demolish and replace the I-10, so we will continue the kind of repairs you see being done and continue a shoring plan.” The damage occurred during a fire on November 11, and after the area was cleared and tested for hazardous materials, shoring was constructed to support the highway. Caltrans reported that over 300,000 vehicles pass over the affected section of highway daily.
With ongoing shoring efforts, Caltrans anticipates reopening four out of five lanes of the freeway to traffic within three to five weeks. Subsequent repair work will involve intermittent nighttime closures, with no determined timeline for the overall completion of repairs.
Engineers examined core samples from the damaged columns and bridge deck, opting for surgical repairs to the elevated freeway instead of replacement. Safety testing and structural evaluations by Caltrans are ongoing.
Debris removal from the storage yard beneath the freeway is underway, with the goal of clearing the site by Friday. The fire impacted approximately 400 feet of the elevated highway, damaging 100 columns, with 10 columns severely compromised. Parts of the bridge deck also sustained damage.
Although no highly toxic chemicals were found post-fire, on-site environmental monitoring has been implemented to fortify drains and limit runoff from the affected area. Emergency funding for repairs has been promised by the federal government, and California has entered contracts with Security Paving and Griffith Company for debris removal and shoring.
Governor Newsom mentioned that the state is utilizing contract templates from the 1994 Northridge earthquake projects to create long-term contracts for I-10, with substantial incentives to expedite the work. “We are working on the details of that contract in real time,” Newsom says. “We are taking lessons learned from the Northridge quake as it relates to incentives in contracts.” While interim contracts are in place, the exact number of long-term contracts needed is yet to be determined.
The fire, which ignited in a storage yard beneath the freeway on November 11, was determined to be intentional arson by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). An ongoing investigation is in progress.
At the time of the incident, the leased area under the freeway was unlawfully subleased by Apex Development, Inc., leading California officials to initiate legal action against the firm. Efforts are underway to evict Apex Development from all five leases it holds on other freeway right-of-way sites.
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