DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The rain moving into Southern California this week could make the traffic tie-up around the 10 Freeway closure in downtown Los Angeles even worse.
On Tuesday, Mayor Karen Bass got a bird's-eye view of the repair work during a helicopter tour, allowing her to see what traffic looked like in the area from above. She said there is definitely more congestion on surface streets near the closure, making the area much more difficult to maneuver.
"It was very, very obvious that when people did not stay on the freeway and decided to get on the surface streets," said Bass. "The surface streets look like an absolute parking lot. I know sometimes when you have your apps, when you're looking at Google Maps or Waze, it tells you to stay on the freeway but you want to deviate ... that is not the thing to do right now."
The mile-long closure is between Alameda Street and the East Los Angeles Interchange in both directions. Bass urged drivers to stay on the freeway, and transfer to the 60, 5 and 101 to help alleviate traffic on the streets.
"On Monday, the first day of the weekday, we saw a 15% increase in traffic on city streets surrounding the I-10 closure," said Laura Rubio-Cornejo, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. "[On Tuesday,] we saw traffic volumes were 26% above normal traffic levels along the detour routes. Please remember that our downtown streets, particularly those around the impacted area, are some of our most congested corridors."
Tuesday marked the second workday commuters were forced to deal with the freeway closure, which was sparked by a pallet fire in a storage yard beneath the roadway -- a fire that Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials said was deliberately set.
Local transportation officials said the city made it through Monday's start to the work week in pretty good shape.
"What we saw was both encouraging, but a reminder of the significant challenges we face,'' said Rubio-Cornejo.
The rain will likely pick up in the afternoon Wednesday, but it'll move fast so roadway flooding isn't expected. More of these moderate rain cells will pop up later in the afternoon - around 4 p.m. - and the rain will be widespread for the afternoon commute. There's also a small chance you could see a thunderstorm.
By the time 8 p.m. rolls around, there won't be much left until mid-Thursday morning when just a bit of light rainfall is expected.
To encourage residents to get out of their cars, LADOT is temporarily eliminating fares on DASH and Commuter Express bus lines. There will also be more white glove traffic officers out on the streets to help drivers get through intersections faster.
Metro trains are also increasing the speed of trains along routes of the freeway closure.
According to Newsom, the freeway is expected to reopen in three to five weeks, saying additional testing on concrete and rebar showed better-than-anticipated structural integrity of the freeway deck.
"This will not be a demolition, we will not need to demolish and replace the I-10,'' Newsom said during a Tuesday morning news conference.
Instead, crews will work around the clock to continue shoring up and repairing the freeway deck and the roughly 100 support columns affected by the fire that erupted early Saturday morning and forced the closure of a roadway that handles 300,000 vehicles per day.
Newsom said he expects the work to be completed and at least part of the freeway reopened earlier than five weeks.
"I do not want to see that five-week mark hit,'' he said. "I want to see something much faster.''
He noted that if the freeway would have needed to be demolished, the closure would have lasted "many, many months,'' perhaps as long as six months.
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.