I wanted to provide you with an update on the Sepulveda Tunnel flooding event that took place last weekend and caused serious delays for travelers and local residents driving through Los Angeles International Airport.
Here’s a recap: on one of the busiest weeks of the year for our airport, a rainstorm overwhelmed the drain pumps in the tunnel running under the LAX South Airfield. Those drain pumps failed, the tunnel flooded, the government agencies with jurisdiction took too long to respond, and there was no plan to handle the ensuing traffic chaos.
There is no excuse for the recent breakdown in the State’s and the City’s obligation to provide the public with a functional and reasonable flow of traffic through this critical artery of our region’s transportation infrastructure. My constituents, the residents of Los Angeles, and visitors to this great City deserve better.
City leaders are working overtime to fix this problem before it happens again. This morning, the Chief of Operations at Los Angeles World Airports met with the Bureau of Street Services Engineering and Emergency Operations Staff to review contingency plans and shore up the parts of this process that were found to be seriously flawed. I won’t be satisfied with the outcome of those efforts until I see that the respective agencies have signed on to a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines clear plans and responsibilities for tunnel maintenance and operation.
To address the immediate problem, I’ve been assured that the starters for the tunnel pumps have been replaced and dynamic testing of the system will be conducted early Wednesday morning. Caltrans will be on-hand to clear any of the storm drain pipes that may be obstructed. I’m also being told that BSS staff will be on call the rest of this week, and into the weekend, to respond in case of another event.
I want to apologize to all of those who were deeply inconvenienced, and to those who found themselves struggling to work their own way out of tough situation that should have been anticipated, planned for, and prevented from the start.