Update: Multiple Big Rig Crash Closes I-5

  • [AP photo] Big rig trucks ablaze at entrance to tunnel on Interstate 5, in the Newhall Pass, Friday night, Oct. 12.

    [AP photo] Big rig trucks ablaze at entrance to tunnel on Interstate 5, in the Newhall Pass, Friday night, Oct. 12.

OCTOBER 16, UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Southbound I-5 to Northbound SR-14 Connector Reopens

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has opened the southbound mainline connector from the Golden State Freeway (I-5) to the northbound Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14).  This connector was closed due to the 31-vehicle pile-up on the southbound I-5 truck bypass and subsequent tunnel fire which occurred on Friday, October 12.  Passenger vehicles and trucks will continue to share the mainline connector until the truck bypass can be repaired. Caltrans has inspected the mainline connector and deemed it safe for vehicle and truck use. The southbound I-5 truck bypass will remain closed indefinitely.

OCTOBER 15, UPDATE, 7:15 a.m.:  I-5 Reopened Monday Morning

The California Department of Transportation reopened Interstate 5 after a multiple vehicle crash that included 30 commercial vehicles and one passenger vehicle closed the freeway late Friday night.

Lanes are open in both directions with the speed limit reduced from 65 mph to 55 mph.

California Highway Patrol spokesman John Lutz told Associated Press that all main lanes on both sides of the freeway were open, while the truck tunnel where Friday’s deadly crash occurred remained closed.

Lutz said traffic appeared to be moving smoothly on Monday morning.

OCTOBER 14, UPDATE, 10:00 p.m.:

California Department of Transportation spokesperson Deborah Harris told the Associated Press that two northbound truck-bypass lanes around the crash site could reopen Sunday evening with passenger vehicles and trucks allowed.

Department of Transportation officials say southbound lanes could reopen Monday with detours around the tunnel area. Additional northbound lanes could reopen 24 hours later.

Metrolink plans to start running nonstop commuter train service with extra cars between Santa Clarita and downtown Los Angeles on Monday, say Metrolink officials.

A state of emergency was declared by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles County, allowing the state to assist with emergency workers and equipment and provide aid to local government.


See October 13 update below for traffic detour information.

Firefighters finished removing charred debris Sunday from a freeway tunnel where three people died in a fiery, 29-vehicle pileup that could keep a major interstate shut down for days.

Investigators determined 28 commercial vehicles and one passenger vehicle were involved in the crash late Friday that killed three people and injured at least 10. The search of the debris ended Sunday morning and confirmed no more fatalities.

Officials hope to reopen the southbound lanes of the closed freeway by Tuesday morning, but they have been hampered by concern over repairs needed for the tunnel to be safe.

At least five big rigs burst into flames that spread to other vehicles and burned a full day after the crash on a rainy Friday night. At the height of the fire, flames shot out of both ends of the 550-foot-long tunnel, rising as high as 100 feet, firefighters said.

The bodies of two crash victims were found early Saturday and a third was found later in the day, authorities said. The dead were two adult males and one child, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Jason Hurd said Sunday.

The bodies of one man and the child were in the cab of a truck hauling cantalope, which appeared to have hit a pillar outside the tunnel, a fire official told The Associated Press on condition his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak about the crash.

The other body was found in a truck about 12 feet short of the tunnel’s exit, said the official.

The pileup in the southbound truck tunnel of Interstate 5 began about 11 p.m. Friday when two big rigs collided on the rain-slickened highway, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The stretch of freeway carries about 225,000 vehicles a day.

OCTOBER 13, LOS ANGELES – Emergency crews continue to inch their way into the Newhall Pass tunnel as they work to clear a multi-vehicle accident that occurred last night on the southbound Golden State Freeway (I-5) truck bypass.

I-5 currently is closed on the northbound side at SR-14 and southbound at Calgrove Boulevard.

Following the collision, a massive fire was ignited in the tunnel, trapping several vehicles. The fire is still burning in some spots in the interior, making it impossible for crews to enter.

At this time, as many as six big rig trucks and six passenger vehicles are believed to be in the tunnel still. Due to the intensity of the fire, some vehicles might have burned to the core, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.  

Two fatalities have been confirmed, and 10 injured have been taken to local hospitals. The crews still cannot enter the tunnel due to exposed rebar (reinforced steel bars), which is important to the tunnel’s structural integrity. They are, however, continuing to move wreckage out of the area, a couple of feet at a time as it is safe.

The tunnel is a 550 ft- long reinforced concrete boxed girder, built in 1975. It was last inspected in April 2007, and no problems were found.  However, funding has been authorized for emergency repairs should they be needed.

“We need to proceed methodically,” said Caltrans Director Will Kempton, to ensure the safety of all involved. “At the same time, we recognize that I-5 is the major north/south route and it is vital to open it as soon as it’s safely possible.” As soon as the tunnel is cleared, crews will begin shoring under it, he added.

Kempton said that Governor Schwarzenegger is closely monitoring the situation to ensure that all the necessary resources are available.

Caltrans is working to open the southbound lanes by the Tuesday morning commute. It is not known at this time when the northbound lanes will be opened.

I-5 Detours at the Newhall Pass area are as follows: 

Northbound Detour:
For those proceeding to northern California on I-5, transition to northbound SR-14; proceed to westbound SR-138 (Avenue D).  This will connect back to northbound I-5.

Southbound Detour:
From southbound I-5, exit at Calgrove Boulevard; continue south on Calgrove Boulevard to The Old Road, which becomes San Fernando Road; continue on San Fernando Road to Sepulveda Boulevard; continue south on
Sepulveda Boulevard to the southbound I-5 on-ramp at Roxford Street.

Additional MetroLink and Detour Information from the City of Santa Clarita:

UPDATE 10/14 @ 2:30 p.m.

The closure of Interstate 5 south of Santa Clarita near the 14 Freeway will continue through Monday October 15th and will affect commuter traffic. City officials are urging residents to find alternative methods of travel, such as Metrolink( http://www.metrolinktrains.com ) or City of Santa Clarita Transit(http://www.santaclaritatransit.com ), or avoid traveling altogether to help alleviate anticipated congestion.

Officials are predicting that southbound commuters traveling from the Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley areas should plan on adding 2 hours for their commute.

Metrolink Officials have announced that they will add additional trains and trips from the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate additional travelers.

Santa Clarita traffic engineers will be working closely with the Sheriff’s Department to monitor and alter timing and control of traffic signals to increase morning and afternoon traffic flow.

Cal Trans is announcing that two northbound truck lanes could be open on I-5 as early as 6pm Sunday October 14th, but southbound lanes are not expected to re-open until either late Monday or Tuesday October 16th.

Surface streets being used as detours in Santa Clarita are anticipated to be heavily congested for Monday October 15th. The main detour routes impacted include, but are not limited to:

· San Fernando Road from Magic Mountain Parkway (both sides)

· Sierra Highway

· Magic Mountain Parkway

· The Old Road

Santa Clarita residents can tune into KHTS AM 1220 for up-to-date information relating to closures and detours.


· Northbound traffic on I-5 will be diverted to the 14 Freeway, exiting San Fernando Road to Magic Mountain Parkway.

· Southbound traffic on I-5 will be diverted at Calgrove Blvd. and detoured through the Old Road, however (as detailed below) all Southbound I-5 ramps are closed through Santa Clarita.

· Southbound commuters from North Los Angeles County can avoid the I-5 closure by taking Highway 126 to the 101 Freeway.


  • Southbound I-5 is closed at Calgrove. In addition, all southbound I-5 on-ramps at Rye Canyon, Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia Blvd, McBean Blvd and Lyons Ave are closed to traffic. All southbound traffic is required to exit at Calgrove and is being diverted on to The Old Road. At this time The Old Road is available. Motorists are able to re-connect with Interstate 5 at Roxford.
  • Northbound I-5 is closed at the I-5/SR 14 Interchange. All northbound I-5 traffic is being diverted onto SR 14. In addition at this time Foothill Boulevard from Balboa Boulevard is open to northbound traffic only and connects to SR 14.
  • At this time Southbound Sierra Highway between San Fernando Road and Foothill Boulevard can only be accessed by emergency response vehicles. Motorists wishing to travel southbound at San Fernando and Sierra Highway are required to use SR 14.

City of Santa Clarita Transit Information

Please anticipate extended commute times to your destination



· Expect delays on all services. Give yourself extra time for your commute.

· Local Bus Route 8 will be detoured on to The Old Road southbound and State Route 14 northbound.

· All routes will be operating normal schedule. Commuter routes will be traveling on State Route 14.


· Metrolink will be adding trains and trips to increase capacity for rush hour commutes from Santa Clarita into Los Angeles.

· Metrolink will accept all of The City of Santa Clarita Transit monthly passes for train fares

· Overflow parking for Metrolink is in place and shuttles from these lots are available to the Santa Clarita(Soledad) and Newhall Metrolink Stations:

o Saugus Speedway for the Santa Clarita(Soledad) Metrolink Station

o Six Flags Magic Mountain Main Lot for the SantaClarita(Soledad) train station

o 6 th and San Fernando/Main Street for Newhall Metrolink Stations train station

o Hart Park on Newhall Avenue/San Fernando for Newhall Metrolink Station Saugus Speedway for the Santa Clarita(Soledad) train station

The City will provide shuttles to take commuters to and from all overflow lots to the Santa Clarita or Soledad Metrolink Station.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

This is part of the October 12, 2007 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.