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San Diego Freeway (I-405) to close for 53 hours

Carmageddon - San Diego Freeway I-405 will be closed for 53 hours

  According to the map the San Diego Freeway (I-405) will be closed between the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and the Ventura freeway (US-101).

That section of freeway is probably the slowest and most overload freeway in the Los Angeles area and it will really suck if it is closed for 53 hours.

The thing I hate about the Phoenix freeways is the idiots in the Arizona Department of Transportation routinely close the Phoenix freeways for routine maintenance.

If that happened in LA, the folks there would revolt and string the folks at CalTrans up from light poles.


Roads to avoid when 'Carmageddon' closes 405 Freeway

July 11, 2011 | 7:42 am

CANYON ROADS: It's the mostly two-lane, north-south canyon roads connecting the San Fernando Valley and western Los Angeles County. Those roads, which traverse affluent neighborhoods such as Bel-Air, can bog down in normal weekend traffic.

They include Sepulveda Boulevard, Beverly Glen Boulevard, Benedict Canyon Drive, Coldwater Canyon Drive, Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard. Despite extensive public warnings to stay away from the area, representatives of some canyon neighborhood groups are dreading a hillside traffic nightmare — or worse.

COASTAL ROUTES: Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is a tourist and beachgoer magnet on almost any summer weekend. Officials fear that drivers who might angle around the closure to the west — particularly those traveling to or from Ventura and the Central Coast — could overload the scenic highway.

Although Topanga Canyon Boulevard has been designated an alternative route, officials are urging people to avoid that narrow, winding mountain pass, which links Pacific Coast Highway to the Ventura Freeway in the western San Fernando Valley.

FREEWAY BACKUPS: To the south, Santa Monica officials are preparing for a potential onslaught of detouring motorists, in addition to the usual throng of summer visitors. Backups are likely near Interstate 10 and the town's busiest freeway offramps — Cloverfield Boulevard and 4th and 5th streets. Twelve miles east of the closure, the Harbor Freeway also could be a mess. It will probably capture much of the rerouted traffic, and on Saturday as many as 100,000 people are expected to attend a soccer match between Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy at the L.A. Coliseum, next to the freeway.

Wow! An empty San Diego Freeway? No cars on the 405?


405 Freeway's path tells a story of near-constant change

By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times

July 14, 2011

The army of men and machines chewed through the Sepulveda Pass, casting aside in a geological blink of an eye what had taken nature millions of years to make. From above, the Santa Monica Mountains, its crest splayed apart, looked as if it was undergoing open heart surgery.

"This is the toughest highway job I've ever seen," project manager Gordon Bawden said at the time.

This weekend's closure of the 405 Freeway, also known as the San Diego Freeway, through the Sepulveda Pass as part of a $1 billion widening project is being foretold as "Carmageddon" — a potential cataclysm that underscores the region's servitude to an overburdened freeway system.

But in fact, the corridor has been under renovation for centuries. California's original commuter, Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola, rode a horse through the area in 1769 following Native American hunting trails. Wagon roads were carved on top of footpaths.

The road that prefigured the 405, four-lane Sepulveda Boulevard, opened in 1935 and was hailed in the Los Angeles Times as a "new and wondrous highway" over the mountains, vastly superior to the overcrowded Cahuenga Pass and Laurel Canyon.

Sepulveda would become a clogged deathtrap within a few years. It's hairpin curves claimed 65 lives during the 1950s alone in often-spectacular multi-car crashes. More than 40,000 vehicles a day squeezed through a three-lane tunnel at its crest like sausage into a casing. Northbound traffic routinely backed up to Sunset Boulevard.

"It could take you more than an hour to drive Sepulveda to West L.A. It was a long haul," said Chuck Mathews, 77. As a young man just out of the Air Force, he took a job as a surveyor for the highway department and would work on the corridor's next incarnation.

In August 1960, work began on the 405 Freeway connecting western Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley — part of a 12-mile, $20 million project, then the most expensive California highway project to date.

Newspaper accounts marveled at the supersized numbers involved. Eighteen million cubic yards of earth removed! Ninety thousand cubic yards of concrete poured! Six million pounds of steel holding it together! A 30-story building could be hidden within the depths of the so-called Big Cut.

"Back then it was bang, bang, bang — get them designed and get them built as fast as you can," Mathews said of the heady days when new freeways were embraced as the liberator of an expanding metropolis.

Dec. 21, 1962, was a day to celebrate the opening of eight lanes of freeway that flowed through the mountains with the grace of a river.

Some 800 people watched Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty cut a ribbon and then fly off in a helicopter, leading a caravan of cars southbound across the Sepulveda Pass.

Motorists flooded the northbound lanes above Sunset Boulevard. Traffic backed up for more than a mile, causing the route's first SigAlert.

Meantime, in the southbound lanes, police pulled over Ron Tamkin for going 72 mph in a 65 mph zone — the new freeway section's first ticket.

"I was driving my newborn son, Bobby, home from the hospital," said Tamkin, now 72. "I told my wife not to tell anyone. I was embarrassed. Here I was speeding with a baby in the backseat."

The next day's Times reported the incident — and Tamkin's name. Every detail about the new freeway was news. Tamkin clipped the story and put it in Bobby's baby book.

The 405 would come to play an integral role in Tamkin's life.

He and his business partners profited from land deals that led to new apartment complexes in the now easily accessible western San Fernando Valley. In 1970, Tamkin and his family moved from Mar Vista to a new home in Encino.

"I'm sure I wouldn't have done that without the freeway," he said.

He had plenty of company. About 100,000 vehicles a day crossed the pass on the 405 in 1963; by 1990, it was nearly three times as many.

"The freeway serves as a bridge over the barriers of both social and natural geography," David Brodsly wrote in his seminal 1981 book, "L.A. Freeway: An Appreciative Essay." "The San Diego freeway through the Sepulveda Pass … is functionally similar to the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan with the once less accessible Brooklyn suburbs."

In the summer of 1960, construction or planning was underway on no fewer than a dozen freeways in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties.

As the 405 was being completed, a decade of noise, dust and neighborhood destruction had left many with a case of freeway fatigue. Thousands of buildings were razed to build the 10 Freeway; tens of thousands of people were displaced.

Public opposition would soon kill plans to cut freeways through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and lead to a statewide revolt against the politically powerful highway lobby. The era of crosshatching the region with new freeways was drawing to a close.

"It was sad in later years when you couldn't build new freeways and all you could do is survey for sound walls to keep the noise away from people," said Mathews, the surveyor.

Mathews has an affinity for the 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains as few people alive do. He helped site its interchanges, curbs and overpasses — including the Mulholland Drive bridge, which will be partially demolished this weekend, forcing the freeway's closure.

"I kind of hate to see them tear it down. It's near and dear to my heart," Mathews said.

In a 32-year career, Mathews worked on nearly every new freeway project in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties.

He still marvels at how they connect such a far-flung region. Recently, he drove from his daughter's place in eastern San Diego County to his home in Granada Hills. The route — 150 miles on the 15 Freeway to the 210 to the 118 — took Mathews about two hours.

Other freeways, he tries to avoid.

"The 405," Mathews said. "There's just too many people on it wanting to go from here to there."

Wow! An empty San Diego Freeway? Look at that! Is that Wilshire Blvd?


Caution: Lifestyle detours ahead

By Martha Groves and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

July 12, 2011

A Sherman Oaks couple plan to make the best of "Carmageddon" weekend by lounging poolside at home and detoxing with a fruity homemade cleanse.

Another couple, in Brentwood, will hold a "you can't get there from here" party with the invitation to "share the kvetch with friends."

After weeks of "EXPECT BIG DELAY" warnings on electronic billboards and elected officials' doomsday prognostications of an epic chokehold on mobility, Angelenos are adjusting in anticipation of this weekend's shutdown of heavily used portions of the 405 Freeway.

The severing of one of the region's most vital arteries, prompted by partial demolition of the Mulholland Bridge as part of a $1-billion highway widening project through the Sepulveda Pass, has become the grievance du jour at dinner parties and beach clubs. As much as commuters love to hate the 405, the prospect of having to steer clear of it might be even more maddening than the typical bumper-to-bumper grind.

Although many Southern Californians say they plan to heed warnings to stay close to home, others — out of necessity or defiance — are plowing ahead with birthday parties, food festivals and nuptials.

The wedding of Dalia Franco and Moshe Shmuel, a year in the making, will go on as planned Sunday at a private home in Bel-Air, even though key streets in the tony neighborhood could be clogged with frustrated motorists seeking shortcuts. With 130 guests coming from as far away as Israel and South Africa, the couple felt they had no choice but to stick to the schedule.

Franco's mother sat them down two months ago to delicately deliver news of the closure. "Don't freak out," she began. "But I have something to say about the wedding."

"We freaked out!" said Franco, 25, of Marina del Rey. "Can you imagine? Of all the days of the year, they chose my wedding day."

Jacqueline Brand, a violinist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra who lives near the 405 in Brentwood, also is forging ahead with plans for her daughter's 10th birthday party Friday evening. The girl's father lives in the San Fernando Valley and is already dreading the drive home. Other invited guests have begged off, citing the freeway closure.

"I don't think it's possible to let her birthday go unmarked," Brand said. She's less valiant about the drive to Santa Barbara the next day to meet up with childhood friends. "I'm not completely convinced I'm going to end up doing this," she said.

The Santa Monica Farmers Market couldn't put off its birthday celebration, either. The popular bazaar, which marks its 30th anniversary this weekend, has asked customers to put up out-of-town vendors, sparing them potentially day-long traffic jams.

Many others have decided to suspend business — or pleasure — as usual.

The Westwood Recreation Center canceled a Friday night hoops session and a Sunday pickup football game. The Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades moved a summer college tournament to Azusa Pacific University after some players threatened to pull out over traffic worries.

Bowing to the freeway overlords, the Studio City hosts of a reunion of UCLA Daily Bruin staffers decided to postpone the party.

So many clients of Beverly Hills hair stylist Bruno Meglio canceled their Saturday appointments that he decided to take the day off and head early to LAX for his evening flight to Italy.

For some go-go Angelenos, the prospect of a weekend of enforced immobility has given them an excuse to chill out. "We're going to be drinking beautiful juices and sitting by the pool," said Carrie Zivetz, the Sherman Oaks resident, who said she and her husband, Charles Hannah, intend "not to worry about the fact there might be insanity going on the freeway."

For others, it has thrown their social metronomes off-kilter.

Lynn Crosswaite of Sherman Oaks is at loose ends, having to forgo her usual gym-rat drive down the 405 to Sports Club L.A. on Sepulveda Boulevard near Santa Monica Boulevard.

"What to do?" Crosswaite said in an e-mail. "Go door to door asking neighbors if I can swim laps in their pool? Risk a heart attack power-walking in the extreme hills near my home? Or simply stock up on organic cookies … and eat my way through the weekend?"

Defying the adage that nobody walks in L.A., Ari Rutenberg, who works in the film business, plans to hike two miles from Westwood to Westfield Century City shopping center on Saturday to catch an 11 a.m. showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2," the final film in the boy wizard series.

"Carmageddon" caught on as the descriptor for the weekend. But not all observers have embraced the title. Susan Taylor Mills, a soprano with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, launched a naming contest with her Facebook friends. Among the entries: Ay CARamba!, Commuticide, the Wreck-oning and Seppukulveda (look it up) Pass.

For those who can't abide the prospect of inertia, several popular attractions are looking to make it worthwhile to venture out. Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier is offering free unlimited ride passes to guests who can verify their San Fernando Valley ZIP Code. Visitors who purchase an unlimited ride pass will get free cotton candy the color of an orange construction cone.

And then there's the Dale LaDuke Group, which is promoting its Saturday night gig at the Rumor Mill, off the 405 in Mar Vista, as "The Great 405/Sepulveda Pass Closure Concert."

Shmuel, 26, the Israeli-born bridegroom-to-be who plans to wed Sunday in Bel-Air, said organizing around the freeway shutdown has been a challenge for him and his fiancée, but also a lesson.

"We had to calm each other down and find comfort in each other," he said. "Planning a wedding is a test for marriage. And we passed this one with flying colors."




California freeway closure sparking dread, fears

Jul. 14, 2011 07:15 AM

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Thousands of doctors and nurses will bunk at hospitals, an emergency operation center will be set up and Southern California residents are being urged to stay home and stock up on food.

One major airline offered $4 seats to help people avoid the looming mess, selling out of tickets in three hours.

The crisis?

A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 - a vital artery that links population centers north and south of the Santa Monica Mountains - is shutting down for 53 hours this weekend. The closure, a necessary part of a major highway reconstruction project, is being dubbed "Carmageddon," evoking images of gridlock, road rage and other traffic nightmares that it might spawn in car-dependent Southern California.

Celebrities are among those sounding the alarm, via Twitter messages urging residents to stay off the road starting at midnight Friday.

"This weekend, LA! Avoid Carmageddon, Gas-zilla, 405-enstein, Grid-lock-apalooza! STAY HOME. Eat & shop local," Tom Hanks tweeted this week.

Beyond tongue-in-cheek apocalyptic warnings, city leaders stressed that real public safety concerns exist: Helipads have been cleared for air ambulances and 200 extra firefighters and paramedics will be on duty, some of them positioned along the shuttered freeway to protect fire-prone hillsides in the area. Four big hospitals near the freeway on the city's west side are setting up cots and putting thousands of doctors, nurses and medical personnel in hotels and dorm rooms so they don't show up late to their shifts.

The UCLA Health System placed advanced orders for medical supplies and food, even preparing 5,200 box lunches for staff, ahead of the shutdown. It has three helicopter companies on standby to transport patients and human organs in the event of emergency operations.

"You can't take a chance when you deal with patient safety and patient care," said Dr. Wally Ghurabi, the emergency director of Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He planned to sleep in the E.R. throughout the weekend instead of commuting the 20 miles from his home in Torrance to the hospital.

Authorities are hammering the same message to drivers. Starting last month, they flashed freeway electronic signs warning drivers to "EXPECT BIG DELAYS."

"The best thing is to stay home if you can, don't drive if you don't have to," said Michael Miles, a California Department of Transportation official. "Be prepared, treat it like it's a disaster."

On a typical July weekend, about a half-million vehicles use the section of the freeway, known locally as the 405, to get to major destinations such as the airport, beaches and interchanges to other major highways. Transportation officials said a full shutdown is necessary to replace the 50-year-old Mulholland Bridge as part of a $1 billion project to widen the perpetually bottlenecked segment through the Sepulveda Pass.

Authorities said a full closure was necessary to demolish one side the span, and they picked this weekend to minimize impact to traffic on a workday. They expect another closure next year to replace the other half.

To discourage driving, transit officials will offer free rides on the subway and certain bus lines and add more train service.

Anticipating potential backups caused by drivers who won't heed the warnings, the city plans to deploy traffic engineers to monitor the ripple effect on roads and to manage key intersections. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is urging residents to stay close to home and shop locally if they must go out.

"We need every Angeleno to chip in and turn this Carmageddon into a unique opportunity," he said Wednesday.

Villaraigosa's not the only one seizing the opportunity to drum up business this weekend.

A helicopter company is advertising $150 rides to zip people to downtown and Los Angeles International Airport. JetBlue is providing $4 to $5, 30-minute "Over the 405" flights between Long Beach Airport and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, calling the service a "planepool" between the San Fernando Valley and the beach.

Hotels and restaurants are offering discounts, movie theaters along the freeway are giving away popcorn. A fitness instructor suggests "Carmageddon yoga" for stressed-out drivers. And Dr. Arnold Klein, Michael Jackson's longtime dermatologist, is giving 25 percent off on Botox injections.

"Instead of being stuck on the freeway and not being able to do anything you could be in my office and be more beautiful," Klein said.

Waze, a company that provides GPS navigation applications for smartphones, set up a website and plastered posters across the city to urge drivers to sign up for its service and survive "this imminent disaster."

Dire warnings have shown to work during the 1984 summer Olympics and a 1987 visit by Pope John Paul II. The city braced for the worst, but traffic flowed freely because people avoided driving.

Some people are making the best of the circumstance by organizing mass bicycle rides and neighborhood parties.

The pastor of a church on Mulholland Drive moved his Sunday service to a theater so his roughly 3,000 congregants can worship.

Mark Wadsworth of Bel Air Presbyterian Church said he doesn't expect everyone to attend. He compared the circumstance to Colorado, where he previously preached, when fewer people showed on snowy days.

"This is the L.A. version of a snow Sunday," he said.

Meanwhile Moshe Shmuel, who's expecting 120 guests at his Saturday wedding, said he was worried that some people flying in from Israel and South Africa may have trouble getting from the airport to the ceremony at a private estate in Bel Air. He told his guests to leave extra early so they can show up on time.

"Lucky for us, the rabbi lives close-by. He doesn't need to take the freeway," Schmuel said.


JetBlue offers 'Carmageddon' flyover: Long Beach to Burbank for $4

July 13, 2011 | 1:34 pm

JetBlue Airways is doing its part to help out commuters during this weekend's so-called Carmageddon.

With the 405 Freeway set to be closed from late Friday until early Monday because of construction, the airline said it would offer $4 fares each way from Long Beach Airport to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

"Fly JetBlue between Burbank and Long Beach this Saturday (7/16) only!" the airline's website says. "Fares are $4 each way so get on board quick -- book now through July 16 or while supplies last. Or for $5 each way customers can also enjoy an Even More Space seat on their Carmageddon Fly-over, which includes early boarding and early access to overhead bin space as well as a spacious seat with extra legroom -- limited quantity available on each flight."

"This will be our shortest commercial flight," JetBlue spokewoman Sharon Jones told The Times. "We thought this would be a fun and unique idea. We looked at it as a way to introduce our product to customers who have never joined JetBlue."

[Updated at 3:05 p.m.: JetBlue is encouraging people trying to book flights to make their reservations by phone. The website is experiencing technical difficulties.]

JetBlue is offering two fights from Long Beach to Burbank and two from Burbank to Long Beach -- both on Saturday.

The flights will take 20 minutes.


'Carmageddon' flights between Burbank and Long Beach sold out in a few hours

July 13, 2011 | 4:39 pm

In less than four hours, JetBlue Airways sold out all four special "Carmageddon" flights between Burbank and Long Beach on Saturday.

The marketing ploy was posted on JetBlue's website at 12:30 p.m. PDT, and by 4 p.m., the airline announced that the sale was over. "Our special Saturday flights between LGB and BUR are sold out!" the company posted on Twitter.

JetBlue offered the 20-minute flights, two each way, to coincide with the closure of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass this weekend. Spokeswoman Sharon Jones told The Times that this would be the airline's shortest commercial flight.

"We thought this would be a fun and unique idea," Jones said. "We looked at it as a way to introduce our product to customers who have never joined JetBlue."


As 'Carmageddon' approaches, other cities offer incentives to avoid Westside

July 13, 2011 | 1:27 pm

"Carmaggedon" is coming, but several Southland cities are encouraging residents to avoid the potential traffic nightmare by attending a full slate of activities this weekend.

Pasadena, Palmdale, Santa Monica and Newport Beach have several deals in place for the weekend to entice their own residents to stay home and to lure Angelenos away from the Westside during the 53-hour closure of the 405 Freeway, set to begin Friday.

Organizers of Saturday's L.A. Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl are advertising their annual event as a potential "staycation" for those wishing to avoid traffic woes. In addition to offering a free shuttle service between the Metro Memorial Park Station and the Rose Bowl, free parking and a multitude of bicycle racks, the festival also has arranged for attendees to receive discounted rates at the Courtyard Marriot in Old Town Pasadena.

Palmdale officials are encouraging visitors to take advantage of the weekend activities taking place in the city — including a Thursday night open market, a Saturday summer concert and a Sunday grand opening of a Yardhouse restaurant — as well as permanent attractions such as the DryTown Water Park.

"Traffic is going to be rough around the I-405 and I-10 area as demolition activities will take place over the weekend for 53 consecutive hours," Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said in a statement. "Since authorities are advising people to avoid the area until the project is complete, we're taking this opportunity to invite people to Palmdale to take advantage of the many summer activities going on this weekend as well as all the amenities we have to offer."

In Santa Monica, city officials are encouraging residents to "stay and play local," and are advertising "405-free" weekend activities. A wide array of local businesses, hotels and restaurants are also offering discounts during the closure.

In Newport Beach, six major hotels are offering visitors package deals or discounted prices, free services or other perks as an incentive to visit, reports the Daily Pilot.

Gary Sherwin, president of Visit Newport Beach, told the Pilot he came up with the idea after hearing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa say people should "go on vacation" during the closure. His group's ad campaign says heading south to Newport Beach this weekend is "more than a vacation. It's a civic duty!"

"It was an opportunity that was handed to us," Sherwin told the Pilot. "If there has ever been a motivation to get out of L.A., this is it."


For Carmageddon, officials say stay local, use public transit

July 13, 2011 | 6:56 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other officials Wednesday urged city residents to take advantage of the “Carmageddon” weekend to shop locally and use public transit.

Metro will be temporarily waiving fees on the Orange, Purple and Red lines and 26 other bus lines this weekend. Metrolink will increase commuter rail service on the Antelope Valley and Ventura lines as well as offer an unlimited use $10 weekend pass, good system wide.

Ten miles of the 405 Freeway between the 101 and 10 freeways will be closed beginning Friday night and ending early Monday so crews can demolish the Mulholland Drive bridge. Hoping to avoid a monumental traffic jam, authorities have been urging celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Ashton Kutcher to tweet their followers about the shutdown. Hanks also urged them to eat and shop locally.


'Carmageddon': Tom Hanks urges Twitter followers to eat and shop locally

July 13, 2011 | 4:22 pm

Actor Tom Hanks gave a boost to the Los Angeles Police Department's "Carmageddon" media strategy, warning his 2.2 million Twitter followers to avoid the 405 closure.

Police had asked celebrities, including Ashton Kutcher, William Shatner and Lady Gaga, to post on Twitter about the closure of a stretch of the 405 Freeway this weekend.

Instead of urging people to leave town, Hanks urged them to shop and eat in their neighborhoods.

"This weekend, LA! Avoid Carmageddon, Gas-zilla, 405-enstein, Grid-lock-apalooza! STAY HOME. Eat & shop local! Hanx," he wrote. Eating and shopping locally is being suggested by many store and restaurant owners on L.A.'s Westside who have expressed concern that the potential traffic nightmare will scare away customers.

To help get the word out, the LAPD targeted celebrities with more than 500,000 followers on Twitter as people who could help them deliver the message.

Kutcher, who has 7 million followers on the social media site, joked on Twitter: "LAPD askd me 2tweet: 405fwy btwn 10 & 101 will b closed July16-17. In xchange I would like a free pass on that stoplight tickt IT WAS YELLOW."


Carmageddon: LAPD says no to parties, bike rides on 405

July 14, 2011 | 7:30 am

There's no way to plan for Carmageddon, the three-day shut down of one of the most vital stretches of freeway in Los Angeles, without having to field some unusual requests or address oddball contingencies.

Take the Facebook group that has proposed holding a block party on a Santa Monica Boulevard ramp to the 405, complete with beer and guitars.

There's also the enterprising marketers who asked CalTrans for permission to spray paint a bridge abutment with graffiti reading "The Apes Will Rise" to promote the new "Planet of the Apes" movie.

A group of bicyclists sought permission to ride down the steep inclines of freeway in the Sepulveda Pass during the weekend closure. But those ideas ultimately were nixed because of safety concerns.

"In planning for this closure, we gathered the best emergency around," said Cmdr. Andy Smith. "We tried to think of everything but some of these requests are beyond even what we had anticipated."

However unusual the circumstances of a major freeway closure, Smith said that the law still applies, no matter what. That means anyone who thinks it would be fun to have a impromtu block party worthy of a beer commercial or zip their bike or skateboard down the freeway should expect "a swift and certain police response."

The LAPD, DOT and firefighters will be flexible and ready for a host of different scenarios, even more dangerous possibilities such as a plane crash, earthquake or brush fire.

"Anyone who is looking to do something should think again," Smith said. "We'll have a lot of cops out there and they will be looking for something to do."


'Carmageddon': Los Angeles freeway shuts down

Posted 7/16/2011 9:00 AM ET

By John Rogers And Daisy Nguyen, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A 10-mile stretch of one of the nation's busiest freeways has turned into a virtual ghost road.

Ramps to the normally clogged Interstate 405 began shutting down Friday evening before the entire roadway was closed at midnight, setting the stage for a 53-hour construction project that will test whether this car-dependent city can change its driving habits for a weekend.

For weeks, authorities have urged residents to avoid getting in their car, lest they trigger what's been hyped as "Carmageddon."

Such an event could back up vehicles from the 405 -- locals like to joke that its name is shorthand for "traffic that moves no faster than 4 or 5 miles an hour" -- to surface streets and other freeways, causing a domino effect that could paralyze much of Los Angeles.

With warnings having been broadcast through television, radio, social media and flashing freeway signs as far away as San Francisco, much of the city's nearly 4 million residents appear ready to stay off the roads.

Crews systematically began closing on- and off-ramps beginning at 7 p.m. Friday then began lane closures at 10 p.m., before the entire 10-mile section that runs through the Sepulveda Pass was closed at midnight.

Evening rush-hour traffic was light in the hours before the shutdown. Motorists took to Twitter to marvel at the rare sight of traffic maps showing a sea of green, indicating that traffic was flowing.

"Carmaggedon? More like carmaheaven. No traffic in L.A.," tweeted Chip Dorsh, who said he breezed through a canyon road to get from his job in Culver City to the San Fernando Valley.

"When I left work, it was like a no man's land," Dorsh later told The Associated Press.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he thinks traffic will move smoothly if motorists take advice and stay close to home throughout the weekend.

"We can either say we survived Carmageddon or we survived the Carmageddon hype," he said.

If people listen, there will be no shortage of staycation activities or adventures awaiting them.

They can snag free cotton candy at the Santa Monica Pier or drop in on Michael Jackson's dermatologist for 25-percent-off Botox injections so that frazzled commuters won't look quite so frazzled.

Those who do want that real road warrior look might consider swinging by T-Man's Tattoos (located just off the 405) in the San Fernando Valley.

"If you come on in and mention you're in town because you're stuck from Carmageddon, you can get 15 percent off tattoos and piercings," proprietor Howard Teman said.

A few planned to take discounted helicopter rides over the empty stretch of the 405, several dozen others have $4 to $5 tickets to board special JetBlue flights between Long Beach Airport and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. The airline, seizing on the national buzz about Carmageddon, offered the deal this week by calling the short, 20- to 30-minute flights a "planepool" between the San Fernando Valley and the coastal city.

Tickets sold out within three hours.

The flights inspired a group of cyclists to challenge JetBlue to a race. Members of the Wolfpack Hustle planned to peddle on a roughly 40-mile route starting near the Burbank airport to see whether they or a JetBlue passenger will reach Long Beach first.

Cycling advocates said they hope to show that gridlock can be avoided without using a car or plane.

"Everyone's freaking out about car traffic around the 405, bicycling represents a very viable alternative," cyclist Gary Kavanagh said.

Meanwhile, construction crews were working feverishly to take down a section of the 50-year-old Mulholland Bridge as part of a $1 billion freeway-widening project.

Extra police, fire and medical personnel were on hand to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Or, if it doesn't, to ensure they are prepared to handle any emergency.

The city fire department put two dozen additional engines, fire companies and ambulances into service, placing them in neighborhoods that firefighters might have a hard time getting to from jammed roadways.

Much of the section of freeway that is being shut down winds through a hillside pass near Beverly Hills and other communities that are susceptible to brushfires.

Wildfire season, however, hasn't reached its peak yet, fire officials said. Besides, this weekend's expected humid weather should further reduce the threat of a fire.

The UCLA Health System, which runs the huge Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center located near the 405, was putting its weekend staff in dorm rooms and hotels to ensure they don't run late to work. Three helicopter companies were on standby to transport patients and human organs in case of emergency procedures.

For those who do have to drive, a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center psychiatrist was offering advice on how to keep calm and stay safe.

Among Dr. Waguih William IsHak's advice: avoid road rage at all costs, apologize profusely to anyone you accidentally cut off in traffic, be sure to leave for your destination with a full tank of gas and a cell phone.

Or, better yet, authorities say, stay at home.

"If everyone heeds our advice, this whole weekend will be in our rear view mirror and everybody will be fine," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.


Carmageddon: 'Impressive start' to freeway project, official says

July 16, 2011 | 7:15 am

With "Carmageddon" underway and 10 miles of the 405 Freeway closed to motorists, officials said demolition work on the Mulholland Drive bridge proceeded on schedule early Saturday morning.

Just before 5 a.m., the first floor of the Emergency Operations Center downtown — which had been filled with public information officers Friday afternoon — was mostly empty.

Television screens showed the demolition site and the red, yellow and white sparks flying from the bridge as work crews continued demolishing the south side of the Mulholland Drive bridge. Another screen showed local traffic patterns for the region that were almost entirely free-flowing.

On the second floor of the center some two-dozen law enforcement officers ran the command post and kept a short incident list on a large screen in front of them. The mood in the command post was mostly collegial and relaxed, though officers stayed focused on their particular tasks and many eagerly awaited the impending 6 a.m. shift change that would allow them to get home and get some sleep.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said that so far, the freeway closure and demolition were going "terrific."

"The people of L.A. listened to the message and stayed out of the area" for the most part, Smith said. He said that the freeway closure went off on time — even a few minutes early — and that the demolition was on schedule.

Real-time traffic maps, Smith said, were "green and clean" by 8 p.m.

LAPD Deputy Chief Earl Paysinger told Smith that he was able to make it home to Long Beach on Friday afternoon in nearly record time.

Smith said there were really no incidents to speak of related to the closure except for a head-on traffic collision on Sepulveda Boulevard shortly after midnight that sent one person to the hospital with a broken collarbone and totaled a Porsche.

Some cyclists had also inched toward the closure area but left after seeing a slew of cars with the California Highway Patrol on lookout, he said.

There was also a group of some 100-150 cyclists that had congregated in Culver City early Saturday morning, which worried law enforcement, thinking they might try and bike in the closure area. But the cyclists quickly dispersed, Smith said.

Overall, Smith said there were no emergency calls throughout the night from the closure area.

At the construction site, sounds of crane-mounted jackhammers pierced the otherwise quiet morning hours Saturday as they pounded away at the concrete and workers with cutting torches severed rebar. Showers of sparks and debris — mostly chunks of concrete — fell on the highway, which workers had covered with a layer of dirt to protect the pavement.

Officials at the site confirmed that construction was running smoothly.

“It’s an impressive start to the work,” said Dave Sotero, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In all, officials said about 4,000 tons of concrete will be removed by early Monday morning as the south side of the bridge is torn down.

Caltrans is also using the shutdown to complete other maintenance work on the closed portion of the 405 Freeway. The work includes sealing cracks, repairing guardrails, landscaping, restriping pavement and fixing signs.

Though officials praised the progress thus far, they were quick to warn that traffic could still be congested throughout the weekend.

"If I was a betting man, I'd say Sepulveda is going to be quite clogged up," Smith said.


405 bridge demolition work is proceeding briskly, officials say

By Dan Weikel and Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times

July 16, 2011, 8:08 p.m.

A bridge demolition project that forced the weekend closure of the 405 Freeway at the Sepulveda Pass was proceeding briskly Saturday, as authorities continued warning area motorists to stay home or risk a major traffic meltdown.

By early Saturday morning it was clear that many had heeded the call of politicians and transportation officials to steer clear of the massive highway project, as traffic throughout the city was light. For weeks, an extensive public relations campaign warned residents of impending gridlock as a result of the closure, and urged Angelenos to either stay home or opt for public transportation.

"It's going smooth because people are not getting into their cars," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters at a news conference by the Mulholland Drive bridge. "Virtually every artery, every major street has less than normal traffic. Thanks to the media, they're the reason this is going smoothly....If you get into your car and act as if it's business as usual, you'll be stuck in the mother of all gridlock."

The 405 was shut down at 12 a.m. Saturday between the 101 and 10 freeways, as workers demolished the southern half of the bridge, which spans the freeway. That 10-mile stretch of the 405 carries roughly 500,000 vehicles on a normal July weekend.

The demolition is part of a larger $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane. The freeway will be shut down again in 11 months as crews take down the other half of the bridge.

Villaraigosa took a helicopter tour of the construction site and surrounding areas, saying he was amazed to see how light traffic was not only on the freeways, but on surface streets as well. Transportation officials feared gridlock on the canyon roads near the Sepulveda Pass, as well as Pacific Coast Highway and the major east-west arteries from downtown to the Westside would result in widespread "Carmageddon," but that never materialized.

"No one is on Santa Monica Beach or Zuma Beach. Hardly anyone is on Pacific Coast Highway. It's dead as a doornail out there," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "There are no choke points anywhere we can see — there are no holdups anywhere."

"This reminds me of the movie 'On the Beach,' " Yaroslavsky added, referring to a 1959 movie set in post-apocalypse Australia. "No one is out, no one is driving."

He predicted demolition work would be completed ahead of the 5 a.m. Monday deadline. By Saturday afternoon, the center stand of the bridge was mostly gone, and crews were removing girders on the other two stands.

Politicians and transportation officials have been warning residents for months to stay off the freeways this weekend, even enlisting actors Tom Hanks and Ashton Kutcher and singer Lady Gaga to alert their millions of followers on Twitter. California Department of Transportation road signs flashed warnings about the closure up and down the state.

Kristen Cortez, a 24-year-old law student from the Mid-Wilshire area, usually drives to visit her parents in Santa Barbara but decided a week ago to catch a train from downtown Los Angeles' Union Station. When she woke up this morning, the freeways were clear. But she decided not to take any chances.

"I just didn't want to have to worry," she said. "You never know what's going to happen on Sunday."

Metrolink spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said ridership doubled on some trains on the Oceanside to Union Station line, and more riders also piled aboard trains between downtown and the Antelope Valley. The MTA's Red Line station in North Hollywood also was buzzing more than on an average Saturday, agency officials said.

The closure is designed to give construction workers enough time to raze the southern half of the bridge, which is being chipped away using cutting saws, acetylene torches and jackhammers mounted on heavy equipment. About 4,000 tons of concrete must be removed.

Contractors working on the 405 Freeway project face penalties of $6,000 for every 10 minutes they run over the allotted time for completion — which is 53 hours. The fines apply separately for each side of the freeway, meaning that amount would double if both the southbound and northbound lanes remain closed.

Should motorists approach the closure area, they will be channeled from the 405 onto the 101 or 10 freeways. Those traveling on the 101 and the 10 will not be able to enter the 405 because of the closed connectors.

If the 405 is not reopened early, all lanes and freeway connectors are scheduled to be back in operation by 5 a.m. Monday. The onramps and offramps will be returned to service by 6 a.m.

Sepulveda Boulevard will remain open during the demolition work. The heavily traveled street parallels the 405 and provides an alternative link between the San Fernando Valley and West L.A.

To deal with the closure, public safety agencies have increased staffing and positioned paramedics and firefighters in neighborhoods that could be affected. Hospitals, such as Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, also have taken measures to remain adequately staffed through the weekend.




L.A. downshifts, and the driving is easy

By Alan Zarembo, Ari Bloomekatz, Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times

July 17, 2011

For all the doomsday warnings about "Carmageddon," the first day largely came down to one question: Could a group of bicycle riders beat a plane across Los Angeles?

Life without the 405 Freeway to connect the San Fernando Valley and Westside was remarkable only for what didn't happen. The canyons of the Hollywood Hills did not become giant parking lots. Hospitals did not go unstaffed. Stranded motorists did not abandon their cars and stagger down the freeways in search of food and water.

But although gridlock never materialized, something unexpected did: Los Angeles' car culture took a day off. Many people simply stayed home. Flying down open freeways was reminiscent of the traffic-free days during the 1984 Olympics.

The free-flowing traffic was proof, officials said, that their warnings had worked.

In a California Department of Transportation "nerve center," a giant electronic road map of Los Angeles glowed green all day. "Saturday light," as Mike Miles, a Caltrans executive, called it.

Carmageddon could turn out to be the biggest non-event since Y2K.

Not that the day lacked drama. In the great tradition of the land of reality television, Los Angeles created its own.

First came a clever marketing ploy from JetBlue Airways: $4 flights Saturday between Burbank and Long Beach airports.

A flurry of Twitter activity ensued, followed by tough talk from the Wolfpack Hustle, a local cycling club, that six of its best riders could beat the 150-seat Airbus A320 — including drive time to and from the airports, check-in and security screening.

In the end, the cyclists crushed it, cruising along the Los Angeles River to reach the final destination, the lighthouse in Shoreline Aquatic Park, in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

The plane had barely taken off. Cyclist Joe Anthony, on board as part of the challenge, said there was only one advantage to the airliner.

"It's legal to drink beer and fly, whereas the cyclists have to follow all the rules," he said.

Most passengers flew purely for the novelty. Alfred Pierfax, who was heading straight back to Burbank on the next plane, said he was unimpressed by Carmageddon.

"I'm going to call it 'Carmadud,' " he said.

Still, it was a rare day in Los Angeles.

Even the much anticipated soccer game between the L.A. Galaxy and Real Madrid wasn't creating traffic woes as fans arrived at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon — and found themselves with time to kill.

"Not once did we drive under 60 on the way here," said Vatche Marganian, who came from Orange County using the 91 and 110 freeways.

Michele Cohn, who was perusing a garage sale in Santa Monica, said she felt like she was living in a small town for the day. "Its amazing; I love it. I wish it were like this all the time."

Traffic isn't a bad thing for taxi drivers, as long as the meter is running. But cabbie Mark Rivkind said not only were most roads traffic-free, but hardly anybody wanted a ride.

"No Carmageddon!" he complained while parked outside an LAX terminal waiting for somebody, anybody, to get in.

One astute woman realized what many others missed: The southbound 405 lanes south of the Mulholland Drive bridge, whose partial demolition caused the closure, were actually left open. Heather Grimmer didn't have anywhere to go, but she went anyway, shooting a video of the empty freeway and posting it on YouTube.

"It was literally completely empty," she said. "Like, completely empty. It was great."

A couple of cyclists trying to get on the freeway were arrested by state troopers. A skateboarder and a jogger were also cited.

Tom White, a helicopter co-pilot, marveled at the emptiness of the 405 as he shuttled passengers from Van Nuys to LAX. The 14-minute trip cost $150.

"I've been stressed for days," said one passenger, Kevin Norris, a professional golf caddy who needed to catch a flight to France. "I didn't want to spend five hours in a car. When I saw this advertised, I thought that's got to be the way."

Some of the few complaints were not about traffic on the ground but traffic in the sky. Residents near the bridge complained on Twitter about noise from helicopters circling the demolition site since late Friday.

As far away as Nevada, electronic road signs warned motorists of the 405 closure.

Traffic officials and politicians said they were pleased that motorists had paid heed. But as if trying not to jinx their good fortune, they were not quite ready to declare victory.

"We're not over the hump yet," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the message had gotten through. "L.A. has risen to the occasion. They have turned 'Carmageddon' into 'Carmaheaven.' "

In its copyrighted use, Carmageddon is a violent video game that involves smashing into cars and running over pedestrians. It is unclear who first used the term to describe the threat of the 405 closure, but it went viral after Yaroslavsky invoked it at a news conference in June.

Officials said its apocalyptic connotation made clear that this was no ordinary road closure, scaring many people into staying home this weekend.

"The only way to reduce the number of cars in the system is to penetrate the consciousness of the motorists," Yaroslavsky said.

In light of the foreboding warnings, said Doug Failing, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's highway program, "it would be nice to have a little bit of congestion."

He was joking, but his point was an important one. Public officials run the risk of becoming victims of their own success. Their messages have to be strong enough to produce action but credible enough so that people — and the media — trust them the next time.

"We're going to have to be probably more creative in terms of getting the message out next time around, because there are going to be a lot of people who think, 'Ah, there's a lot to do about nothing,' " said Villaraigosa. "And frankly, they couldn't be more wrong. This is working because people are heeding the call."

The 10-mile stretch of the 405 was scheduled to be closed until 6 a.m. Monday. But officials said the partial demolition of the Mulholland Drive bridge is going so well that the freeway could reopen sooner.

Sometime next summer, transportation officials plan to demolish the other half of the bridge.

Stay tuned for "Carmageddon II."





Carmageddon video: Woman drives down an empty 405 Freeway

July 16, 2011 | 1:09 pm

Here's a rare sight: Driving the 405 Freeway without any other car on the road.

Heather Grimmer said she was sitting on the couch Saturday morning watching the news and looking at the online information about the closure itself and “it looked like the highway was open from the Getty [Center Drive] south, but nobody was really paying attention to it.”

Said she drove around Sepulveda Boulevard a few times — just out of curiosity; she didn’t have errands to run or work to go to — and noticed one traffic officer near the entrance by the Getty Center and people would slow down, but he would let them go through. So she went through and got on the freeway, and drove it all the way to the 10 Freeway.

“It was literally completely empty. Like, completely empty. It was great. It felt like L.A. was empty,” she said, adding she was one of two cars she saw, all the way down to the 10. Construction crews were on the northbound side.

She videotaped the drive for posterity.

The 405 is closed this weekend through the Sepulveda Pass as workers demolish the a portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge as part of the freeway widening project.

Authorities said a few people have tried to get onto the 405, including a jogger wearing a helmet camera and skateboarder who got onto the side of the freeway that was still open in the early hours of the morning.


Carmageddon: 2 cyclists arrested for riding on closed 405

July 16, 2011 | 3:08 pm

Two bicyclists who were riding shirtless on the southbound 405 Freeway near the Wilshire Boulevard exit were arrested, officials said.

The cyclists were cited -- and their bikes were impounded -- around 2:15 p.m., according to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson.

Earlier in the day, about six to eight cyclists were escorted off the freeway closure area.

A 70-year-old jogger was arrested at 9:25 a.m., Fajardo said. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant of public menace, and it was not clear if he was also arrested for being a pedestrian on a freeway.

Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles said a few people have tried to get onto the 405, including a jogger wearing a helmet camera and skateboarder who got onto the side of the freeway that was still open in the early hours of the morning.


Carmageddon: Motorists ditch cars, hop aboard trains

July 16, 2011 | 3:43 pm

Click for more photos of the 405 Freeway closure

With 10 miles of the 405 Freeway closed for "Carmageddon," a number of seasoned motorists decided to take their first train rides Saturday.

Kristen Cortez, a 24-year-old law student from the mid-Wilshire area, usually drives to visit her parents in Santa Barbara but decided a week ago to catch a train from downtown Los Angeles' Union Station. When she woke up this morning, the freeways were clear. But she decided not to take any chances.

"I just didn't want to have to worry," she said. "You never know what's going to happen on Sunday."

Cortez miscalculated how long it would take to get to the station and didn't know where to park. So she missed her 12.30 p.m, train and plopped into a chair under the station's cathedral ceiling to wait for one at 3 pm.

"Even with this trouble, I know it could be so much worse," she said.

Beverly and Dale Richardson of Peoria, Ill., had no idea what they were getting into when they arrived several days ago for scuba diving training on Santa Catalina Island. The couple had SuperShuttle pick them up from San Pedro at 11 a.m. to catch a 5.45 p.m. train. They arrived at Union Station at noon.

"We would rather be way, way early than too late," said Beverly Richardson, who works in security.

The couple spent the time getting to know their fellow passengers, taking some pride in surviving "Carmageddon."

"We've been there, done that and got the T-shirt," said Dale Richardson, an industrial mechanic.


Carmageddon ends: 405 Freeway reopens to traffic [Updated]

July 17, 2011 | 12:02 pm

Officials began removing the barriers blocking the onramps to the freeway around noon.

[Updated at 12:05 p.m.: Officials began allowing southbound traffic to flow, followed a few minutes later by northbound traffic. The move came after officials drove the closed portion of the freeway to look for any debris. They first opened the freeway's exit ramps, then the entrance ramps.]

The weekend demolition of half of the Mulholland Drive bridge spanning the 405, dubbed Carmageddon, cost an estimated $3 million, according to Mike Barbour, project director of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project. The contractors will receive extra pay for getting the job done early.

“We worked with the contractor to build in some incentives to get it done early,” Barbour said. He would not quantify the extra pay except to say it “isn’t a large number.”

“By us opening early, that far outweighs any money spent” on incentives, he said.

The 405 was shut down at midnight Friday night between the 101 and 10 freeways, as workers demolished the southern half of the bridge, which spans the freeway. That 10-mile stretch of the 405 carries roughly 500,000 vehicles on a normal July weekend.

The demolition is part of a larger $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane. After the new lanes are finished to replace those being demolished now, the freeway will be shut down again in 11 months as crews take down the other half of the bridge.

Contractors working on the 405 Freeway project face penalties of $6,000 for every 10 minutes they run over the allotted time for completion — which is 53 hours. The fines apply separately for each side of the freeway, meaning that amount would double if both the southbound and northbound lanes remain closed.


Carmageddon a boon to some, burden to others

July 17, 2011 | 1:29 pm

When Joseph Berman, 44, first heard about “Carmageddon,” he was worried.

The Quantico, Va., resident had already scheduled a job interview with Amtrak in Los Angeles this weekend. He saw people talking about Carmageddon on YouTube and became concerned.

He called some friends in the area and asked, “What is going on with this Carmegeddon stuff?”

When they explained, he really started to worry.

He was staying with friends in the Corona area and they planned their weekend around the 405 Freeway closure, avoiding major roadways. When it came time to leave town Sunday, Berman took the Green Line to catch his flight out of LAX.

Berman’s verdict on Carmageddon?

"I was looking forward to all the hype,” he said, but in the end, “it was totally painless."

Not so for LAX shuttle bus driver John Cole, 35.

With Southland residents flocking to public transportation, Cole said Sunday that his 25-seat bus had been jam-packed, causing some delays Saturday. He said the crowds reminded him of the holiday rush.

"This was like a holiday all day," he said.

However, once Cole hit the road it was a different story. Instead of holiday traffic, he enjoyed nearly empty roadways.

"It was pretty much smooth sailing," he said.


Carmageddon contractor may receive incentive pay

July 17, 2011 | 10:24 am

Click here for more photos Contractors will probably receive incentive payments for finishing the "Carmageddon" demolition on the 405 Freeway ahead of schedule Sunday, transportation officials said.

But officials said the cost savings to Metro and Caltrans from finishing ahead of the Monday morning deadline will far outweigh the incentive rewards to the lead contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.

Had the freeway project not been finished by 5 a.m. Monday, the contractor faced potential penalty payments of $6,000 for every 10 minutes it was late.

The weekend demolition of half of the Mulholland Drive bridge spanning the 405 cost an estimated $3 million, according to Mike Barbour, project director of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project. The overall project, which includes replacing the bridge, building a northbound carpool lane, ramp improvments and landscaping, costs about $1 billion.

“We worked with the contractor to build in some incentives to get it done early,” Barbour said.

He would not say how much the incentives will be, but he said it “isn’t a large number.”

“By us opening early, that far outweighs any money spent” on incentives, he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Metro Chief Executive Art Leahy were expected to release more details about project costs and incentive payments when they appeared near the demolition site at 10:30 a.m.

Barbour said part of the reason the demolition was ahead of schedule Sunday morning was that managers had incorporated a time cushion into their plans in case problems arose, such as bad weather, traffic or work conditions. None of those problems surfaced, he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate. A lot of things did not go wrong,” Barbour said. “It went very smoothly.”

Barbour and other transportation officials said they were particularly encouraged that Angelenos heeded public officials’ call to stay off the freeways during the project, making it easier for demolition to proceed as planned. Barbour said that bodes well for the next planned 405 Freeway closure in 11 months, when crews hope to demolish the other half of the Mulholland Drive bridge.

“We appreciate the fact that L.A. residents stayed off the freeways. They listened,” he said. “It will go well the next time if we can keep that same focus.”

As of Sunday morning, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Alicia Mathis said there were 50 responses by the fire department in and around the closure area, about comparable to normal.

Mathis said most response times were within the department's normal range, often beating average response times.

Jim Featherstone, general manager of the city's Emergency Management Department, said that immediately after the reopening of the 405, officials would being working to "retool" their message about getting motorists to avoid the freeway so that the next closure in about 11 months goes just as smoothly.

"Crisis information is driven by the situation. It's real important to look at how the messaging goes out next time," Featherstone said.


Carmageddon: Crews tidy up 405 Freeway preparing for early reopening

July 17, 2011 | 9:18 am

Crews begin to clean up dirt and debris after major demolition is finished on the Mulholland Drive bridge across the 405 Freeway. Click here to see more pictures of Carmageddon. By sunrise Sunday the demolition work at the Mulholland Drive bridge was reduced to tidying up and the end of "Carmageddon" was in sight.

Workers with street-sweeping equipment and push brooms were scooping up piles of debris and dust piles under the 80-foot-tall span.

Other workers were smoothing out rough edges on the deconstructed bridge with concrete saws and acetylene torches. Freshly painted stripes stretched around the bend of the dusty freeway.

Still others were preparing to recycle 4,000 tons of shattered concrete and tons more of twisted metal reinforcement bars.

"The concrete will be used in the base of the new carpool lanes," said Metro Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman. "I heard that the rebar will be sold to scrappers. I heard a lot of it may go overseas."

Littman added that "the money from those sales will go toward the construction project."

The suspense over exactly when the 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway would return to service grew among journalists encamped in a designated media staging area on Skirball Center Drive. The area provided a panoramic view of the construction site, roughly one-eighth of a mile to the north, where crew members wearing dust masks, helmets, goggles and work gloves and carrying equipment such as saws and shovels could be seen making final touches on the project.

Returning the freeway to normal traffic status was foremost on the minds of city and transportation officials and the contractor, Kiewit Pacific Co., which would have been charged $72,000 for every hour of delay in reopening one of the nation's busiest interstates by 6 a.m. for the Monday morning commute. But Sunday morning officials said the highway could be reopened as much as 19 hours early.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was expected to lead a news conference at the media staging area later Sunday morning.




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