Investigation and Structural Assessment Underway to Determine Reopening Timeline
Written By Shafeek Ahmad, Published On 13-November-2023, 1:26 AM EST
Los Angeles, – A colossal fire has forced the indefinite closure of a major elevated interstate near downtown Los Angeles, resulting in anticipated traffic disruptions as authorities assess the extent of the damage. The incident, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, has prompted a comprehensive investigation into its cause and structural implications.
Structural Assessment and Investigation Underway
Governor Gavin Newsom, addressing the media at a press conference, emphasized the ongoing investigation into the fire’s origin and its impact on the structural integrity of Interstate 10. Hazardous materials teams are diligently clearing burned debris from beneath the highway, making way for engineers to evaluate the columns and deck’s ability to support the usual daily traffic of approximately 300,000 vehicles.
“This is a 24-7 operation,” Governor Newsom stated. “We are assessing whether we can open a few lanes, retrofit the columns, and ensure the bridge deck’s integrity to allow for a partial reopening.”
However, officials have yet to provide a specific timeline for when the highway might reopen, highlighting the complexity of the operation.
Alternative Transportation Encouraged
With the major artery closed between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, commuters are advised to either work from home or opt for public transportation when commuting into downtown Los Angeles. The closure’s ripple effects are expected to impact surface streets and other vital freeways, including State Route 60 and Interstate 5, as outlined by the California Highway Patrol.
Fire Origin and Emergency Measures
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, with reports indicating that it began around 12:20 a.m. Saturday underneath the highway in an industrial area. The flames engulfed two storage lots, consuming wooden pallets, parked cars, and support poles for high-tension power lines, according to Fire Chief Kristin M. Crowley. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday, directing the state Department of Transportation to seek federal assistance. He disclosed ongoing litigation with the owner of the business leasing the storage property where the fire originated, highlighting an expired lease and overdue payments.
Humanitarian Measures and Homeless Evacuation
Amidst the chaos, authorities evacuated at least 16 homeless individuals living beneath the highway, relocating them to shelters. Mayor Karen Bass assured that there is no immediate indication the fire originated at the encampment. Nevertheless, she acknowledged the long-term impact of the incident, drawing parallels to the damage caused by the Northridge earthquake in 1994.
Reevaluation of Storage Practices Under Highways
California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin acknowledged that storage yards under highways are commonplace both statewide and nationwide. In the wake of this incident, he committed to reassessing and potentially altering this practice.
As the situation unfolds, the city grapples with the aftermath of a fire that has disrupted its vital transportation infrastructure, raising concerns about the duration of the closure and the broader implications for the affected community.
Source – VOA News
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