Stephanie O'Neill/ KPCC
Construction crews work on the I-5 underpass Sunday where a tanker flipped and caught fire on Saturday, July 13. Caltrans said Monday that all northbound lanes of the freeway will remain closed until Tuesday, as will two southbound lanes at the underpass connecting I-5 and State Route 2.
Update 3:52 p.m.: I-5 may open Tuesday; 2 tunnel interchange may remain closed for weeks
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell commended Caltrans on its repair work
KPCC's Jose Martinez reports that the section of I-5 that closed after this weekend's fiery tanker crash may reopen as early as Tuesday. The tunnel interchange to the 2 Freeway may remain closed for weeks, possibly months.
At a 4 p.m. press conference Monday, Director of Caltrans District 7 Mike Miles said additional lanes of the I-5 would open within "the next few minutes." If all goes according to plan, all four lanes of the northbound 5 will be open by tomorrow morning, Caltrans said.
Two southbound 5 lanes will remain closed to provide space for construction crews. Caltrans didn't know when those might reopen.
Caltrans said damage to the tunnel is still being assessed. Crews will begin take "core samples" of the concrete to determine how badly it was damaged by the fire. That'll tell officials what repairs need to be done, and how long they'll take.
Fixing the tunnel will require additional road closures in the coming days, officials said. If all goes well, the tunnel reopening will take: several weeks, according to Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler. But it could take several months.
The California Highway Patrol says it's still looking into why the tanker crashed Saturday. They declined to identify the company that the tanker belonged to Monday.
Update 2:27 p.m.: Stretch of I-5 near downtown LA still closed during Monday morning commute
Morning commuters inched through detours and side streets on Monday after a fiery weekend tanker truck accident damaged a freeway tunnel near downtown Los Angeles, shutting down Interstate 5.
Traffic reports showed bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into the bottleneck. Tens of thousands of cars that normally speed along at 45 mph or better were crawling at 10 mph, California Highway Patrol Officer Juan Galvan said.
Cars were detoured to State Route 2 near the northeastern suburb of Glendale. Some traffic spilled over onto streets.
"Everyone is trying to find that back way they think they know but everyone else knows about it, too," said Patrick Chandler, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation.
Alternative freeway routes, such as U.S. 101, had heavy traffic but it seemed to moving, Galvan said.
However, authorities recommended that commuters give themselves an extra hour or two for trips into or out of downtown, or try to use public transportation.
All northbound lanes of Interstate 5 and two of the four southbound lanes were shut down until at least Tuesday after the tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline overturned Saturday and caught fire.
The fire badly damaged an underpass beneath Interstate 5 that connects to State Route 2.
"The concrete was burning at several thousand degrees so it became brittle. Every part of the tunnel has missing concrete," Chandler said.
Crews propped up the tunnel walls but it was unclear how long repairs might take.
The crash sent up a column of black smoke that was seen for miles and spilled thousands of gallons of gasoline into storm drains and the Los Angeles River, creating a stream of flames in some places.
The map below shows the closures and alternate routes. The dark green lines show detours for northbound I-5, which is closed at the connector between the 2 and the 5, as well as an alternate route for southbound I-5, where two lanes are closed. The red lines show the northbound I-5, which is closed, and the southbound I-5, where two lanes are closed. The light green line shows the connector between the southbound 2 and southbound I-5, which is open. You can click on the link below the map for a larger version in a new window.
View Detours and Closings from Tanker Crash in a larger map
This story has been updated.