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Downtown L.A.
Photograph: Stephane Legrand /

The 10 freeway in Downtown L.A. is open again

Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the freeway will reopen way ahead of schedule.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

UPDATE (11/20): The 10 reopened on Sunday evening, well ahead of the promised Tuesday deadline.

UPDATE (11/16): On Thursday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the 10 will reopen by Tuesday at the latest—weeks ahead of the initial estimate. We’ve updated our story below with the latest info.

Just when you were probably thinking, hey, fire season isn’t so bad this year, a blaze comes and rips through a spot we certainly didn’t see coming: underneath one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles.

On November 11, an eight-acre fire broke out underneath the 10 freeway in a pallet yard roughly between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue. As a result, the 10 has been completely closed along that same stretch ever since—effectively eliminating one of the region’s most vital east-to-west roadways.

Thankfully, it now looks like the end might be in sight for this unplanned Carmageddon. Here’s the latest info on the freeway’s possible reopening date and what alternatives are available in the meantime.

When will the 10 reopen?

After initially estimating that reopening was at least a few weeks off, on Thursday night California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the 10 would reopen by Tuesday (November 21) at the latest.

“One thing we can guarantee you is we will be open five lanes in both directions at the latest Tuesday of next week,” he said. “Things continue to move favorably in our direction. That is not guaranteed. We still have chemical sampling that comes in on a daily basis. But the bridge structure itself seems to be in better shape than we anticipated.”

The governor credited the accelerated timeline to the 250-plus workers that have been evaluating and repairing the bridge around the clock, as well as the fact that half as many bents—essentially supports—needed to be constructed than previously thought and debris removal wrapped up two days early.

The news came only days after Newsom announced that the freeway should reopen within three to five weeks—itself a bit of positive news after an evaluation of core samples taken from the upper deck of the freeway showed more promise than expected. “We will not need to demolish and replace the I-10,” Newsom said on Tuesday (while, ahem, reminding us that he’s a Northern Californian with that “I-10” mention). “One hundred columns have been damaged, nine or ten severely. But shoring work will continue 24/7 and it will allow us to reopen for traffic in a matter of weeks.”

What alternatives are available until then?

Heading from east to west, you can take the 5, 60 or 10 to the 101 north to the 110 south to the 10 west. But that tangle of freeways is pretty much always terrible to begin with, so don’t expect a smooth ride. Or you could dare to try your luck with surface streets in the area, but the same note as above applies to those.

Depending on where exactly you’re headed, Metro operates a considerable number of light rail and bus routes through the area: Most notably, the E Line will get you between East L.A. and Santa Monica and the A Line will take you from Long Beach through DTLA up to Pasadena and then as far east as Azusa.

Metro alternatives to 10 closure
Courtesy Metro

In addition, Metrolink is running additional trains on the San Bernardino Line, which runs from San Bernardino and through the San Gabriel Valley to Union Station. LADOT will also offer free rides on its Commuter Express bus routes through November 26.

Where exactly is the 10 closed?

The freeway is closed from Alameda Street to the 5-10-60 interchange. That means that, driving eastbound, you’ll need to exit at Alameda Street. Driving north or south on either of the intersecting freeways, you’ll need to stick to the 101 or the 5. On the southbound stretch where the 5 and 10 meet, if you’d normally be continuing west on the 10, you’ll need to get off at the Santa Fe Avenue and Mateo Street exits.

10 detour
Courtesy Caltrans

What caused the fire?

The fire is currently being investigated as arson. On Monday, Newsom said that it was clear the fire had been set with “malice intent.” He didn’t have any new updates on the investigation to share on Tuesday, though he did note that nothing at the site was determined to be highly contaminated, aside from a modest amount of lead that originated from cars that were burned.

The fire originated in a lot filled with wood pallets on the 1700 block of East 14th Street; it consumed the pallet yard as well as cars, trailers and a second yard underneath the freeway.

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