10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles reopens ahead of schedule after arson fire

The stretch of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles that's been closed since a Nov. 11 arson fire reopened Sunday night.

The good news for commuters going in and out of Los Angeles came as California Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Vice President Kamala Harris announced the repair progress during a Nov. 19 morning news conference.

Click here for the interactive traffic map.

The Sunday update comes after Newsom first hinted it may take months before the 10 Freeway would reopen after catching fire. The Governor then gave an update days after the fact to say it may take weeks instead of months, and then after that press conference, Newsom gave a third update saying the roads may reopen as early as Tuesday.

"This is a great day in our city, and I think it is a wonderful example of how and why we got this job done," Bass said. "First and foremost, the workforce worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number of workers on the site here doubled and tripled as everyone came together, showing the unity from the White House to the governor, to our senator, all of us standing together to make sure that this got done."

UPDATE: Gavin Newsom says 10 Freeway in LA could reopen Tuesday, Nov. 21

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The stretch of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles that's been closed since a Nov. 11 arson fire will reopen in time for Monday morning's commute, with some lanes possibly opening as soon as Sunday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Vice President Kamala Harris announced during a Sunday morning news conference.

Newsom praised the workers and contracting company and said 10,000 hours of labor went into the effort to get the freeway open in eight days.

"It was a week or so ago that we were here, not knowing if we would be here at this moment announcing the reopening for six more months. We were talking about replacing this structure, we were talking about this historic fire that took out about roughly 100 columns -- four or five particularly severely -- we were talking about replacing a large portion of this freeway," Newsom said.

"You can be assured of one thing: Safety first ... it wasn't just speed that we were after, we wanted to make sure this thing was safe," the governor added.

Newsom said permanent fixes to the freeway would occur over several weeks or months and would require "episodic closures," but those are not expected to significantly impact the daily commute. He added that the Alameda ramp would not open Monday.

There are about 100 concrete pillars underneath that section of the freeway that have been damaged and at least nine of them suffered significant damage in the fire.

(RMG News)

Newsom said authorities have conducted samples underneath the concrete pillars and crews will continue to shore up the site, emphasizing the work will continue around the clock. 


On Nov. 14, Bass urged Angelenos to remain updated on their commutes, to stay on the freeways using the suggested detours and asked residents to telecommute if possible. She again suggested people use public transit to help with traffic congestion. 

On Nov. 13 alone, officials said they saw a 15% increase in street traffic. 

SUGGESTED: Stay on the freeways’: LA Mayor Bass asks drivers to avoid side streets in DTLA amid 10 Freeway closure

Motorists can stay updated by visiting the website Fix10.ca.gov. Officials said crews will install cameras in the area, so people can watch the repairs in real-time.

Newsom said the investigation revealed arson was suspected as the preliminary cause of the massive freeway that ignited over the weekend.

On Saturday, Cal Fire released photos and a description of a person of interest. That person was described as a 6-foot tall man weighing 170 to 190 pounds with black hair. He appears to be between 30 and 35 years old, and his race is unknown. He possibly has a burn on his left leg. The man was photographed wearing a black hoodie, blue shorts, gray shoes, green scarf and a knee brace on his right knee. He was also carrying a dark-colored backpack.


Authorities also said the investigation unveiled the company Apex Development Inc., which leased the land underneath the freeway, was in violation. The company was accused of subleasing the lot to at least five other businesses, which brought other materials onto the lot that were not authorized. 

Newsom said that the state had taken over four of Apex's five leases, with only one remaining in Sun Valley. He added that a court hearing in the case is expected in January or early February.

Caltrans is reviewing all similar leases to determine whether other companies might be violating lease terms. The governor said Sunday that preliminary results of that probe would be released Wednesday.

Bass said she has asked all city general managers to report if their agencies have any active leases of property beneath the freeway.

If you have any information on the arson fire under the 10 Freeway, please call the Cal Fire arson hotline at 1-800-468-4408. Tipsters can remain anonymous. 

City News Service contributed to this report.