USA TODAY International Edition
California’s Interstate 10 set to reopen after fire
A key Los Angeles highway that was closed after an arson fire was scheduled to reopen Sunday night, days earlier than planned and weeks before initial estimates of the time frame required to make repairs.
Vice President Kamala Harris joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference Sunday announcing the speedy reopening.
A 1- mile stretch of the I- 10 freeway near downtown Los Angeles has been closed since the blaze Nov. 11 scorched the road and burned nearly 100 support columns.
Newsom thanked crews who worked thousands of hours to get the highway ready. “This thing opens tonight and will be fully operational tomorrow,” he said Sunday.
Last week, the governor had said it could take as long as five weeks to fix the highway.
Police search for arsonist
The fire was intentionally and maliciously set, State Fire Marshall Daniel Berlant said last week. It was fueled by pallets, vehicles, construction materials and other items stored under the highway. No arrests have been made, Newsom said.
No injuries were reported in the fire, but 16 unhoused people were displaced, officials said.
On Saturday, Cal Fire released images of a man as a person of interest in the alleged arson. The man was described as about 6 feet tall and 170 to 190 pounds with black hair.
“By working together with our federal and local partners and making this a 24/ 7 operation, the state is on track to open the 10 before millions of Angelenos hit the road for Thanksgiving,” Newsom said.
About 300,000 vehicles use the highway daily, The Associated Press reported. Traffic was detoured to Interstate 110 and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass asked commuters to use public transportation.
Repairs will continue on Interstate 10
Structural test results, expedited debris removal and Newsom’s state of emergency declaration helped bump the highway’s reopening ahead of schedule. But repairs aren’t done on the highway that connects Santa Monica to Monterey Park.
Newsom’s office said last week that temporary closures will continue, to address further repairs.
He also requested the California Department of Transportation and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection review all airspace and telecommunications licensing program sites. The items stored in the underpass were leased out, which Caltrans said isn’t unusual.
“But in this case, the leaseholder was subleasing this space in violation of the lease terms,” the department wrote. The Department of Transportation didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.