Letters to the Editor: Weeks to fix the 10 Freeway? If only rail corridors got that attention

Los Angeles, CA, Monday, November 13, 2023 - Aerial views of the 10 Freeway days after a large pallet fire burned below, shutting the freeway to traffic. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
The 10 Freeway is seen completely empty on Nov. 13 after a pallet fire damaged the structure south of downtown Los Angeles. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: While it is heartening to see Caltrans working with all due haste to repair the 10 Freeway section near downtown Los Angeles after the pallet fire, it is also disheartening to see that the repairs to the track used by Amtrak's Surfliner have not been not treated with the same level of urgency.

Given how lackadaisical Caltrans has been toward repairing the Surfliner's route — which has seen repeated closures and reopenings in recent years because of landslides and coastal erosion — one could be forgiven for not realizing that it is the busiest Amtrak corridor on the West Coast and the system's third-busiest nationwide.

I can only hope that Caltrans takes the lessons learned from repairing the 10 Freeway and applies it to maintaining the rail infrastructure that millions use every day.

Elizabeth Smith, Anaheim


To the editor: The catastrophic closure of part of the 10 Freeway also presents a major opportunity for Los Angeles.

There is an influx of commuters trying out Metro, Metrolink and other public transportation options for the first time in a long time. Ideally, this experience will convert many to transit users for the long term.

City and county leaders should seize this opportunity not only to restore services that were cut during the pandemic, but also to improve them further. Some of the truly awful conditions seen in 2021-22 have improved, with much less violence, filth and drug use.

What is still needed? Information screens that accurately forecast when the next trains are coming. Trains that run every five or eight minutes during peak rush hour. Much more frequent Metrolink and Amtrak service.

Currently, if a rider traveling to L.A.'s Union Station from Orange County at the end of the day misses the 4:47 p.m. Metrolink train, they will have to wait almost an hour for the next service. This is during rush hour!

Catherine Brennan, Los Angeles


To the editor: The hugely disruptive fire under the 10 Freeway may have been started by an arsonist, but it was Caltrans that permitted the storage of thousands of wooden pallets under the roadway.

A large pallet yard fire in downtown L.A. last December demonstrated how difficult it is to control such fires. That danger is well known.

Caltrans should be called to account, whether or not an arsonist is caught.

Gary Blasi, Los Angeles


To the editor: I'm curious how much money Caltrans receives annually from renting storage space under the 10 Freeway. Does it even come close to the millions of dollars it will cost to repair the 10 after the fire?

Jim Jordan, Sherman Oaks

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.