The 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles has been indefinitely shut down due to arson. Over 100 columns along this stretch of freeway have sustained damage. The severity of the destruction raises questions about whether the overpass will be retrofitted or entirely torn down, creating a significant commuting challenge for the city.

Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted the extent of the damage, stating that nine or ten of these columns were severely affected. This closure has disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters, prompting many to explore alternative routes, work from home, or utilize mass transit.

The fire, originating under the Alameda Street overpass early Saturday morning, was fueled by wood pallets in the vicinity. While the exact cause remains undisclosed, officials confirm the presence of malicious intent. Additionally, stored sanitizer from the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the flames, according to sources close to the investigation.

Calabasas-based Apex Development Inc. was leasing the property where the fire began but had subleased the storage site without state or federal permission. Newsom revealed that the company had ceased rent payments and was out of compliance with its lease agreement.

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This mile-long closure between Alameda Street and the East LA interchange has far-reaching consequences. Mayor Karen Bass highlighted the impact on people’s lives and businesses, emphasizing the disruption in commuting, childcare plans, and the flow of goods and commerce. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg assured federal awareness of the situation’s gravity.

Despite the chaos, mitigation efforts are underway, with hazardous materials at the site being addressed. After initial clearance, structural engineers and maintenance crews have access to most of the site. Samples were taken from the freeway columns and bridge deck for assessment.

Securing initial federal emergency funds, the California Department of Transportation has initiated crucial steps, installing shoring underneath the overpass and addressing the most damaged areas. Visual evidence from the scene reveals the charred underbelly of the overpass and sections of columns chipped away.

The fire, reported early Saturday, originated in the 1700 block of East 14th Street, spreading from a pallet yard under the freeway to a second yard, damaging the overpass and destroying vehicles, including a firetruck. While the investigation considers all elements, including the presence of homeless individuals, Mayor Bass stated that there is currently no reason to assume the fire’s cause is linked to unhoused residents.

Living conditions in the area have long been a concern, with frequent fires caused by people residing on the streets. The recent fire reinforces the need for heightened safety measures, including a “no camping zone” around businesses, as observed by local pallet yard owners.

Monday marked the first weekday of commuter disruption, with authorities urging employers to allow remote work and commuters to explore alternative transportation options. Public transit, including Metrolink, rail lines, and local buses, expects increased ridership. Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins advised commuters to plan, share rides, and stay informed about disruptions.

As Los Angeles grapples with this unforeseen crisis, residents are navigating altered commuting plans and increased traffic, emphasizing the need for a prompt response that produces immediate and long-term solutions.