FILE PHOTO: A view following a fire erupted over the weekend, shutting down a heavily trafficked corridor in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 13, 2023. REUTERS/Jorge Garcia/File Photo

A section of a freeway running through downtown Los Angeles that had been heavily damaged by fire earlier this month reopened on Monday, weeks ahead of initial forecasts, city officials said, offering a pleasant surprise for Southern California commuters.

Officials said arson was the cause of a Nov. 11 fire that damaged Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, forcing a closure of the busy east-west road in both directions.

Repair work, which California Governor Gavin Newsom said last week could take three weeks, was completed in eight days after round-the-clock construction and federal support, officials said.

“Our city is grateful for the 24/7 efforts of construction crews who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the 10 freeway will be safe to drive on by Monday,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday evening.

The Santa Monica Freeway, also known as the Interstate 10 – or “the 10,” in local parlance – is traversed by some 300,000 vehicles daily, with the downtown L.A. portion often congested under normal circumstances.

Investigators were still searching for the person or people responsible for the blaze that scorched more than 100 columns of reinforced concrete supporting the elevated freeway and the surface of the roadway itself.

The flames erupted in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, and spread through storage yards beneath the freeway filled with stacks of wooden pallets, containers and parked vehicles, authorities said.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Bill Berkrot)