Los Angeles city leaders gathered Sunday to talk aboutwhich has forced an indefinite closure of the I-10 Freeway, making it clear that actions are underway to ease the expected traffic nightmares that will inevitably follow.
Commuters have already been warned to expect delays as the major thoroughfare serves as one of the major arteries to get to and from downtown Los Angeles.
During a press conference late Sunday afternoon, LA Mayor Karen Bass provided additional information for Angelenos to reference as they plan their morning commutes, directing them to the city’s emergency department.
“Our overall message is this: If you’re driving through downtown, stay on the freeway and take the route around,” Bass said.
She asked businesses in the affected areas to consider allowing employees to work from home as the situation develops, hoping it will ease the inevitable crisis.
“We’re also hoping that downtown businesses will join us and lean into work-from-home policies to help alleviate traffic,” Bass said. “I know we’ve spent this time encouraging people to come back downtown and back to their offices, but as we go through this crisis, we want employers who can have their staff work remotely for to do it.”
It is estimated that the massive fire burned up to 100 pillars under the highway, and the most pressing question is whether the highway deck itself will need to be replaced in the coming days.
While there is no timetable for when the highway will be reopened, Bass said recovery and repair efforts were already underway.
“I want to assure Angelenos that we are working night and day to make the necessary repairs to restore the highway,” she said. “This is not going to be resolved in a day or two. … As we learn the extent of the damage, we will keep you posted. But we have to stay together.”
The devastation left by the fire prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to issue a state of emergency for the area to provide the necessary funds and resources to deal with the situation as quickly as possible.
Toks Omishakin, California’s secretary of transportation, discussed the statewide effort already underway Sunday.
“This challenge on I-10 is the number one priority for the governor,” Omishakin said. “He’s called for a 24-7 operation from every state agency involved in every way, from CalFire to Caltrans to the CHP, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Omishakin said Caltrans has secured a $3 million emergency contract to bring in a contractor to “test and clear hazardous material, handle highway and road closures and do possible restoration of the structure.”
Bass said city officials will take a three-pronged approach to dealing with the problem, starting with making sure a plan is in place for commuters heading into the affected area. They will also work to ensure that the road is reopened to travelers as soon as possible, with a focus on safety. Additionally, they will continue to provide the public with as many updates as possible to ensure everyone is informed every step of the way.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also spoke at the press conference and made it clear that no schools were expected to be closed Monday.
“We’re going to try to give students a degree of normalcy,” he said. “Not just educationally. Many of our students, because of their socioeconomic circumstances, depend on the breakfast and lunch and enrichment activities that we offer as a school system.”
Carvalho indicated that several schools are likely to experience a significant impact for students and staff as they arrive and leave the school, including:
- Para Los Niños Primary School,
- 9th Street/Para Los Niños Middle School,
- 20th Street Elementary School,
- 28th Street Elementary School,
- Metropolitan Continuation High School,
- Inner City Art,
- St. Turibius Catholic.
“We transport over 40,000 students a day, especially students with disabilities and those in magnet schools,” he said. “We expect some degree of delay to affect a significant number of students throughout the day tomorrow and over the next few days or perhaps weeks.”
Families were encouraged to contact the district to learn more about public transportation by calling 1-800-LA-BUSES (522-8737). More information was available through their website.
Laura Rubio-Cornejo, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said the best option for those traveling to and from the area is public transportation. She suggested primarily using the Metro rail system, which will allow people to avoid the affected area altogether.
“If you’re traveling in or around downtown LA, your best option is to travel by public transportation, especially the subway,” she said. “If you are driving and your route requires you to pass through downtown LA … please stay on the freeway. There are other routes that you can use including the 5, 101 and 110 freeways to bypass the closure.”
Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro and Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, stated that trips can be planned on Metro’s website, which provides a detailed map of how to get to and from various locations. In addition, travelers can receive up to the minute information by calling (323) GO-METRO (466-3876).
Metrolink has announced that it will expand services on its San Bernardino line starting Monday morning. They will increase capacity and run additional lines to and from the Inland Empire and downtown LA stops.
Motorists using eastbound lanes are advised to:
- exit the freeway at Alameda Street and 16th Street.
To get back on I-10, if necessary, they must:
- head north on Alameda, east on Olympic Boulevard and re-enter the Lemon Street approach.
- Alternatively, head north on Alameda, east on 7th Street and onto the I-5 Freeway.
Motorists using westbound lanes are advised to:
- travel west on Washington Boulevard, north on Central Avenue and west again on 16th Street.
Detours will be implemented in the following areas:
- eastbound I-10 will be detoured at Alameda Street,
- westbound 60 will be rerouted to northbound I-5 or northbound 101,
- southbound I-5 will be rerouted to westbound I-10 but must take the first exit at Mateo Street,
- Northbound I-5 will divert to the northbound 101.
In addition, traffic officers will be placed throughout the area near affected schools, starting at 7 and lasts until 9, and again from