The fire-damaged section of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles will reopen in three to five weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday, saying additional testing on concrete and rebar showed better-than-anticipated structural integrity of the freeway deck.
“This will not be a demolition, we will not need to demolish and replace the I-10,” Newsom said during a Tuesday morning news conference.
Instead, crews will work around the clock to continue shoring up and repairing the freeway deck and the roughly 100 support columns affected by the fire that erupted early Saturday morning and forced the closure of a roadway that handles 300,000 vehicles per day.
Newsom said he expects the work to be completed and at least part of the freeway reopened earlier than five weeks.
“I do not want to see that five-week mark hit,” he said. “I want to see something much faster.”
He noted that if the freeway would have needed to be demolished, the closure would have lasted “many, many months,” perhaps as long as six months.
The investigation into the fire was continuing, and there was no immediate information on a possible arson suspect or suspects. Newsom said at a Monday afternoon news conference that the fire was set within the fenceline of the storage business operating below the freeway, which was littered with vehicles, pallets and other materials.
Newsom said Cal Fire investigators who completed their initial probe Sunday night determined “that it was arson, and that it was done and set intentionally. The determination of who was responsible is an investigation that is ongoing.”
He said investigators had some preliminary tips, but he urged anyone with information about the start of the blaze to come forward and call a hotline at 800-468-4408.
The freeway remains closed roughly between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, affecting connectors to the Golden State (5), Hollywood (101) and Pomona (60) freeways.
Officials urged motorists trying to navigate the area to remain on various freeways as much as possible to avoid having local streets overloaded by thousands of vehicles.
Drivers using the 10 Freeway were asked to remain on the freeway and transfer to other freeways when they approach the downtown area if possible.
For those coming from the east, the first exit to downtown streets is Seventh Street, with the next opportunity at Santa Fe/Mateo. For those coming from the west, the transition to the Harbor (110) Freeway is the first opportunity to access downtown surface streets, and the next exit is Alameda.
State officials established a website at fixthe10.ca.gov to provide the latest information on the repair process.
City News Service contributed to this article.