Return of Carmageddon
August 27, 2012
Carmageddon, last summer’s blockbuster traffic success story, is back with a fall sequel. And to keep Part II from turning into the disaster predicted—and averted—the first time around, officials say it will be more important than ever to go “car-light” or “car-free” during the last weekend in September.
Starting around 7 p.m. on Friday, September 28, ramps to the 405 Freeway will begin closing in advance of a weekend-long shutdown of the entire freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.
The full, 10-mile stretch of the 405 running from the 10 Freeway to the 101 will be closed all of Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30. It is set to reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday, October 1.
Avoiding epic gridlock for a second time may be a tall order, but officials said they are confident the public can pull it off.
“During Carmageddon I, drivers proved the skeptics wrong,” said Supervisor and Metro Director Zev Yaroslavsky. “They heard our warnings and stayed off the roads…And I have every confidence they’ll rise to the occasion again.”
The planned 53-hour closure of the freeway is needed to dismantle the north side of the Mulholland Bridge over the 405. The south side was demolished last summer, but it has taken longer than expected to rebuild, leading to delays in scheduling Carmageddon II.
Picking a suitable weekend meant juggling around big dates like the start of the fall quarter at UCLA (September 24) and transporting the Space Shuttle Endeavor from LAX to the California Science Center in Exposition Park (likely sometime in October.)
The weekend of September 29-30 “was the least impact, that we could tell,” said Mike Barbour, who’s heading up the project for Metro.
The project is part of a major, multi-year effort to build a 10-mile northbound carpool lane on the 405 Freeway, along with other improvements, including redesigned flyover ramps at Wilshire Boulevard. Overall, the project is running four to six months behind schedule, but officials are optimistic they can make up some of that time and still reach “substantial completion” next year.
Work wrapped up 17 hours early during the first Carmageddon—a pleasant surprise that’s unlikely to be repeated this time around, Barbour said.
“There’s more to knock down and more to remove,” he said, adding that workers also will be taking advantage of the lengthy closure to get a jump on maintenance and construction work elsewhere on the freeway.
“The project is pushing to get this job done as soon as possible,” he said, “so we can get out of everybody’s hair.”