Fire damaged I-10 reopening today – ahead of schedule

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California Construction News staff writer

The I-10 Freeway was scheduled to reopen ahead of today’s morning commute, beating the expected timeline by several days thanks to around-the-clock work by union crews. A live cam has been set up at the worksite.

“The work that happened here is extraordinary,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “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.

“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.”

Work to repair major damage caused by a fire was completed in just eights because of the around-the-clock efforts of crews and engineers on and off-site, better-than-expected structural testing results, rapid debris removal, and close coordination between state, local, and federal government officials to safely expedite repairs of a major freeway that is a critical backbone to the American and global economy.

Continuing repairs over the coming months will cause temporary closures on occasional weekends and overnight, along with intermittent lane closures.

The 10 Freeway fire began on a site rented by Apex Development, Inc. (Apex). In the months prior to the fire, Caltrans sued Apex, seeking to remove the company from the leased property for failing to pay its rent and subletting the property without authorization.

A hearing is set for early 2024 in that lawsuit. Apex was responsible for maintaining the fenced-off site while they continued to assert rights under the lease. CAL FIRE’s investigation into the fire — suspected to be arson — remains ongoing. A person of interest has been identified and members of the public are encouraged to provide any leads or tips, which can be sent anonymously to the CAL FIRE Arson Hotline at 1-800-468-4408 or arsonbomb@fire.ca.gov.

Governor Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in Los Angeles County to support the clean-up and repair work and directed Caltrans to request assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program, which the state secured.

After testing samples and assessing damage from the fire, state transportation officials determined repairs could happen without demolishing and rebuilding the 450-foot span of the freeway, which could have taken more than six months.

Union crews continue to work around the clock to get the freeway open by tomorrow morning. While I-10 is closed to all vehicles, Caltrans workers are seizing this traffic-free opportunity to carry out a wide-ranging “swarm” maintenance operation – sweeping, repairing bridge railings and broken concrete, painting over graffiti, cleaning drains and culverts, removing litter, weeds, and overgrown vegetation, and sealing broken access doors.

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