Repairing a tunnel that linked the northbound 5 and 2 freeways and was severely damaged by a fuel-tanker fire in July will cost $16.5 million, state transportation officials said.

The repairs will begin in October and are slated to be completed by Christmas, the California Department of Transportation said on its blog.

The tanker truck was carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel when it overturned July 13 and caught fire in the tunnel, creating a massive traffic headache.

After the incident, Caltrans said "intense heat from the tanker fire caused extensive damage to the pavement, walls, support columns, drainage and lighting."

In a post on the agency's blog Wednesday, Carrie Bowen, acting director for Caltrans District 7, said that after several rounds of exhaustive tests, "we are confident that our solutions will be quick and cost effective."

"Emergency projects are always fluid, but we are moving as much red tape as possible to safely open this connector for all motorists,” she said.

Caltrans said crews will use water to blast away the tunnel’s damaged surface and fill in voids with a concrete slurry. Workers will also inject epoxy into cracks, repave the road, upgrade tunnel lighting, guardrails and add anti-graffiti paint.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna