Commerce Hit By Fallout From Freeway Fire Closure

By EGP Staff Report

It’s happened again.

Traffic on City of Commerce streets was backed up for more than a day following the closure of a freeway that runs through the city.

A grass and trash fire late Monday night at a homeless encampment in a riverbed near the Santa Ana (5) Freeway at Slauson Avenue prompted officials to shut down southbound lanes on the freeway while Caltrans crews worked to repair the damage to the freeway caused by the fire. Only one lane was reopened Tuesday, forcing trucks and cars to use local streets to try to get around the traffic nightmare.

All lanes were reopened about 1 p.m. Wednesday, 36 hours after the closure.

Traffic on Telegraph Road and Washington Boulevard, both major thoroughfares that travel through the city and parallel the Santa Ana Freeway, was almost at a standstill for much of Tuesday and the Wednesday morning rush hour, blocking access to local homes and businesses.

The streets of Commerce were congested this week following the closure of the Santa Ana Freeway due to a fire.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The streets of Commerce were congested this week following the closure of the Santa Ana Freeway due to a fire. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Commerce residents said it was a struggle to get around their city. Some said it took them 15 minutes just to cross one block.

“It’s taken people up to an hour to drive from Veterans Park to the Commerce City Council” meeting at City Hall, Commerce resident Gloria Nezahualcoyotl told EGP.

It might have been better to “just stay at home while there’s chaos in the city,” added another resident.

It was really bad on Washington where there’s already construction going on, said Carmen Marquez. “It’s a disaster,” she said. “Wherever you turn [there] is so much traffic.”

According to CHP Officer Patrick Kimball, the fire was reported about 11:30 p.m. Monday in the Rio Hondo near Slauson Avenue.

Firefighters extinguished the flames in about an hour and 15 minutes, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Michael Pittman“It was a grass and trash fire,” Pittman said. “It was definitely dry down there.” There were no injuries, Pittman said.

A SigAlert was issued at 11:56 p.m. Monday, shutting down both the northbound and southbound sides of the Santa Ana Freeway at Slauson Avenue, the CHP reported.

Two northbound lanes were reopened about 2:30 a.m. and one southbound lane was reopened about 6:15 a.m., the CHP reported.

Caltrans engineers were sent to check the integrity of the roadway, said CHP Officer Tony Polizzi.

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July 9, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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