KCAL: 10 Freeway reopens weeks ahead of schedule in Los Angeles

By Iris Salem

The 10 Freeway reopened on Sunday evening ahead of Monday’s commute a week after a destructive fire led to its closure.

In a news conference Sunday, Gov. Newsom said the thoroughfare will reopen Sunday night but will be fully operational Monday as a result of 10,000 hours of labor by union members. The freeway was initially predicted to require three to five weeks to repair.

“10,000 labor hours all told to get us to this point, ahead of schedule. Eight days to get this thing open and operational and that means if you’re doing the math, that this thing opens tonight. It will be fully operational tomorrow,” Newsom said.

The governor added that there may be episodic closures of the 10 Freeway to do more permanent fixes and supportive repairs of the thoroughfare which will result in some temporary closures on occasional weekends and overnight, along with intermittent lane closures.  

“Those of us that work or live near the I-10 knows just how significant this was and we braced for the worst,” said Sen. Alex Padilla (D). “But I’m happy to be here today, it’s Sunday before Thanksgiving, we don’t have to wait ’til Thursday to give thanks, to give thanks for the opening before the Thanksgiving holiday . . . to everybody involved, a big thank you, thank you, thank you. And to Angelenos, welcome back to I-10.” Sen. Padilla said approximately $3 million were used for the immediate repairs; however, those funds are being provided through federal funding. 

The freeway, which allows nearly 300,000 to travel, had been closed since November 11th following suspected arson.  The blaze completely decimated a storage yard filled with pallets, construction materials and used vehicles, damaged 100 columns underneath, spreading about eight acres as it torched the area underneath the extremely busy thoroughfare used by hundreds of thousands to get to and from downtown Los Angeles.

“The estimates were that this was going to take a long time. There were some who said that a three to four week estimation was ambitious. But these folks, these people who work every day on this, who are experts, who understand the specifics, who understand the detail, they didn’t listen to all that. They just did the work and they saw it through,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

Meanwhile, CalFire officials released a pair of images showing the unidentified person they’re searching for on Saturday. They described the “person of interest” as a man in his 30s who is around 6-feet tall and weighs between 170 and 190 pounds. He has black hair. In the images, the man is seen wearing blue shorts, a black jacket, a black backpack and a green scarf. He also had a knee brace on his right leg.

Authorities also said the subject “appeared to have suffered visible burn injuries on his left leg.” They are working to identify him.

“Our investigators along with Los Angeles Police Department detectives have been scouring the neighborhood really from day 1,” said a Fire Marshal. “We have interviewed witnesses.”

Construction crews are continuing to work around the clock, getting the freeway set to reopen.

No injuries were reported in the fire, but at least 16 homeless people living in an encampment there were taken to shelters, according to Mayor Bass.

An arson investigation remains underway and no arrests have been made. Anyone who recognized the individual in the images above was asked to call Cal Fire’s arson hotline at 1-800-468-4408.

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