Los Angeles faces a traffic challenge of the highest order as a crucial stretch of the 10 Freeway remained closed through downtown L.A., with an estimated three- to five-week closure.
Officials said more than 300,000 vehicles travel through the freeway corridor daily, and drivers face a series of detours to make their commute.
The freeway overpass was badly damaged by an intense fire early Saturday at two storage yards.
Here is what we know:
10 Freeway between East L.A. interchange and Alameda Street.
10 Freeway westbound diverted at Santa Fe Avenue.
5 Freeway north and south transition to 10 Freeway westbound.
60 Freeway transition east and west to 10 Freeway westbound.
Alameda Street closed in area.
I-10 remains FULLY CLOSED until further notice between the East LA interchange & Alameda St due to a fire that damaged the fwy. Avoid the area, expect major delays & seek alternate routes to events in #DTLA or use @metrolosangeles public transit. See detour for WB. & EB I-10 👇 pic.twitter.com/oBduHIFTXY
— Caltrans District 7 (@CaltransDist7) November 12, 2023
Getting around the closure
Here are alternative routes from the L.A. Department of Transportation:
Eastbound 10: Exit the freeway at Alameda Street and 16th Street. To detour back onto the freeway, head north on Alameda, then east on Olympic Boulevard, and reenter the 10 East mid-block on the approach to Lemon Street. Alternatively, head north on Alameda and east on 7th Street, and enter the 5 Freeway. All 10 eastbound freeway onramps between the 110 Freeway and Alameda are closed at this time.
Westbound 10: Reenter the 10 Freeway westbound by traveling west on Washington Boulevard, north on Central Avenue, and west again on 16th Street.
Metro provided details on some mass transit lines available during the closure:
Line 78 (Huntington)
Line 18 (6th Street)
Line 66 (Olympic)
Line 30 (Pico)
Line 33 (Venice)
E Line train (formerly the Expo Line)
A Line train (formerly the Blue and Gold lines)
J Line bus
Officials said LADOT Commuter Express buses around downtown L.A. could see scheduling changes and rerouting due to the 10 Freeway closure.
All Commuter Express buses will be free through the rest of the year.
Los Angeles Unified said schools in the general area would be open but there may be traffic issues, especially in Boyle Heights and south of downtown. Parents with questions about bus routes can call (800) LA-BUSES (522-8737).
Officials are urging people who work downtown to consider working from home if possible.
Traffic is expected to be jammed on freeways that surround and feed into downtown Los Angeles, including the 110, 101, 5 and 60. Some surface streets around the fire zone are also closed.
Many L.A. residents received alerts on their cellphones about the closure.
Mayor Karen Bass on Monday urged patience.
"This was a huge fire and the damage will not be fixed in an instant,” Bass said. “Engineers have worked all night and are working right now to determine our path forward. I have made it clear with our local, state and federal partners that any unnecessary bureaucracy or delays are not happening here.”
Although several columns were severely damaged, officials announced Tuesday that they're optimistic that the overpass can be repaired and possibly reopened in a matter of weeks.
“This is not a demo operation. This is a repair operation,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday morning at the site of the fire, which started under the overpass at Alameda Street early Saturday.
While multiple columns were severely damaged in the fire, officials said they expect the freeway to reopen in three to five weeks. The California Department of Transportation announced that the repair project secured $3 million in emergency federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, though it's unclear how much it will cost to restore the overpass.
“This segment of I-10 is a vital corridor in our Interstate Highway System, and it’s important to hundreds of thousands of commuters as well as to America’s supply chains that it be quickly repaired,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement Wednesday. “These federal emergency funds will help California launch this urgent repair work, and the Biden-Harris administration stands ready to provide further resources as necessary to address this issue quickly and safely.”
I-10 remains closed in #DTLA btwn Alameda St & the East LA interchange. Plan for extra time for your morning commute, work from home if you can, or take public transit. Check https://t.co/O37QesJHpw prior to leaving for your destination for road closures. pic.twitter.com/AHxVr8blOs
— Caltrans District 7 (@CaltransDist7) November 13, 2023
Bass toured the site with Newsom during the beginning of the week and encouraged Angelenos to take public transportation if they could not avoid visiting downtown.
“I just got off of the helicopter surveying traffic in the area,” Bass said in a statement. “I’ve been coming to the site every day since the fire and while our progress has been tremendous, we must continue with urgency."
The situation will be complicated with rain moving into L.A. County on Wednesday.
Though heavy amounts are not expected, the rain could further exacerbate traffic issues as a portion of the 10 Freeway in downtown L.A. remains closed.
A minor break in precipitation is expected Thursday before rainfall picks back up Friday and Saturday, forecasts show.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.