LOS ANGELES — Morning traffic returned without much fanfare Monday to the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, propped up by a series of temporary shoring structures and still bearing black scorch marks from the massive fire that burned under the overpass this month.
A small army of construction workers erected the shoring posts over the last week with “more than 100 tons of large steel beams and enough 12-by-12-inch heavy wooden posts to stretch over a mile if placed end to end,” according to a news release from the California Department of Transportation.
While commuters can drive on the freeway now that the shoring has taken weight off the fire-damaged concrete columns, there is still repair work to be done, and there will likely be incremental closures for repairs on the upper portion of the freeway, according to officials.
“A lot of the work is actually going to be happening underneath the road,” Rafael Molina, deputy director of Caltrans’ Division of Traffic Operations, said during a Monday morning traffic briefing.
But the actual nature of that work remains unclear. Caltrans, the state agency responsible for designing and maintaining the state’s highways, has not released any information about the timeline for repairs.
Caltrans declined an interview request from The Times about the repair project.
After the Nov. 11 fire, which is being investigated as arson as authorities search for a “person of interest,” officials initially said it would take three to five weeks to safely reopen the freeway, but the mile-long stretch between Alameda Street and the East Los Angeles interchange was closed for eight days and reopened Sunday around 7 p.m.
Vice President Kamala Harris joined Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass to stress that the operation to reopen the freeway several weeks ahead of schedule was a joint effort between local, federal and state agencies.
“Tomorrow the commute is back on,” Harris said Sunday from the deck of the freeway. “Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”
Monday morning, traffic roared overhead as a handful of contractors in hard hats and high-visibility vests took measurements.
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