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Transportation and Mobility

Driving North Out Of LA? Here’s How To Avoid Route Fire Lane Closures On I-5

CalTrans staff inspect fire damage on the retaining wall of the northbound 5 Freeway.
Caltrans staff inspect fire damage on the retaining wall of the Northbound 5 Freeway.
(Courtesy Caltrans)
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The Route Fire that broke out last week near Castaic did some serious damage to the 5 Freeway, causing significant delays on a main artery for drivers heading north out of Los Angeles.

The two right lanes on the northbound 5 remain closed between Lake Hughes Road and Templin Highway because of heavily burned retaining walls. Caltrans officials said it’s unclear when the lanes can safely reopen.

The Route Fire (which was 100% contained by Wednesday) caused steel beams to warp and wooden planks to disintegrate along the freeway’s retaining walls.

“At this point, we don't have an estimate of opening,” said Caltrans spokesperson Lauren Wonder. “So we do encourage people to use alternate routes.”

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The closures have caused slowdowns of up to an hour and a half. Wonder said northbound drivers should consider heading for the coast or detouring through Lancaster.

“Use State Route 14. Use 101,” Wonder said. “It may put you an hour out of your way, but it's a lot less frustrating than sitting in traffic for 90 minutes.”

Consult this map for the latest on the lane closures or, if it's not showing data, enter the freeway number into this tool to check current conditions.

Terrible Traffic Weekend

 

Labor Day weekend travelers heading north out of L.A. found the freeway gridlocked. Locals are experiencing longer commutes and difficulty getting through surrounding residential areas.

Castaic resident Debbie Moraco said she’s never seen traffic along the 5 get this bad.

“This weekend, I literally couldn't go anywhere,” she said. “I couldn't even go to the grocery store, because it's more than an hour just to get somewhere.”

Moraco said her usual 15-minute commute home from work took more than an hour last Friday.

Repair Plans So Far Unclear

Officials said the lanes remain closed because engineers need to carry out more tests to determine whether the affected lanes can be driven without risk of collapse.

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Retaining walls made with wood, like those along the closed portion of the 5, are a lot quicker to build than concrete alternatives. But Wonder said Caltrans will reconsider these types of structures along stretches of freeway that have become increasingly vulnerable to fire damage.

“We're seeing more fires,” she said. “Obviously, in areas where there are fires, we're probably going to look more at whether those are efficient.”

All lanes along the southbound 5 remain open.

The Fire's Location

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