Get ready to ramp up on Wilshire

May 11, 2012 

Metro's Kasey Shuda appears in a new video explaining the coming Ramp Jam at Wilshire and the 405.

We got through Carmageddon last summer. Now it’s time to navigate Ramp Jam.

Long-running closures of the 405 Freeway’s Wilshire Boulevard ramps are set to begin on Friday, June 22, bringing fresh challenges to an intersection that’s already among the nation’s worst.

Anxious residents and employees in the area have been girding for the start of the ramp work for months. Some online wags have dubbed it The Rampture, while others who live nearby refer to it ominously as “the next shoe to drop.”

Whatever you call it, the work is needed to construct sweeping, 30-foot-high flyover ramps that will improve traffic flow and safety at the perennially jammed intersection, as this Metro video explains. Currently, vehicles moving on and off the freeway must execute a complicated merge with heavy traffic on Wilshire—a situation the new flyover ramps are intended to alleviate.

The first of eight ramps to close will be the westbound Wilshire on-ramp to the northbound 405 and the northbound 405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire. Both will be out of commission for 90 days starting June 22. Work on the other ramps will proceed in segments after that, with planned closures ranging from 90 days to 14 days. Delays and detours are expected as workers demolish and rebuild the ramps, working around the clock to finish the job.

Some preparatory work has already taken place.

In all, work on the Wilshire ramps is expected to take about a year.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is set to appear with other officials at a news conference today, Friday, May 11, to present ways of coping with the extended closures.

The official mantra for getting through it all: Plan ahead. Adjust your travel times. Share the ride.

In other words, get ready for a long, blocked summer—and then some.

The June 22 start date was chosen, in part, because it will come after the end of the academic year for LAUSD and private schools in the area. The work also will be getting underway following the mid-June flurry of commencement activity at UCLA.

Meanwhile, Metro’s Commute Services Department is seizing the moment and hoping to help residents, workers and employers navigate the disruption, and, perhaps, discover some new ways of getting around that will outlast the temporary pain during construction.

Then, later in the summer, Carmageddon will make a return appearance. The weekend shutdown of the entire freeway is the flipside to last summer’s successful, shorter-than-expected closure required to demolish one side of the Mulholland Bridge. This summer, workers will tear down the other side of the bridge during Carmageddon II. A date for the sequel has not yet been announced.

When completed in 2013, the 405 Project is expected to expand and modernize the heavily-travelled stretch of freeway that runs through the Sepulveda Pass, from the 10 Freeway to the 101 Freeway. The $1.034 billion project will add a 10-mile northbound carpool lane along with lane and ramp improvements and three rebuilt, seismically reinforced bridges across the freeway.

Where giants collide: some of the heaviest traffic in the nation occurs where Wilshire and the 405 meet.

Posted 5/11/12

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