405 Freeway Closure Could Cause ‘Carmageddon’ Traffic Nightmare
San Diegans and other Southern California residents wishing to travel to Los Angeles this weekend should heed the warnings and advice of the LAPD, other officials and even celebrities: don’t take the 405 Freeway.
Ten miles of the northbound 405 will be shut down between U.S. 101 and Interstate 10, a section of road that carries nearly 500,000 vehicles on an average weekend. On the southbound side, a four-mile stretch between the 101 and the Getty Center Drive exit will be inaccessible.
The magnitude of this closure and the near-cataclysmic effects L.A. residents are predicating will happen has led to the event being nicknamed “Carmageddon.”
“There’s gridlock on the 405 virtually any time of the day, but particularly during the rush hour, and if you think it’s bad now, let me just make something absolutely clear: On July 16 and 17, it will be an absolute nightmare,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
The construction is scheduled to last for 53 hours, starting before midnight on Friday, July 15 and reopening by 5 a.m. on Monday, July 18. During this time workers will demolish the southern half of the Mulholland Drive bridge, and then spend about the next 11 months rebuilding it. The northern side is set to be rebuilt about a year from now in another extended-closure weekend.
The project is part of a $1 billion widening project created to help ease traffic congestion in the future, but experts are saying the temporary closure could create a domino effect of gridlock across the county as drivers try to circumvent the closure.
“For people outside the area, from San Diego or Santa Barbara or Ventura, the big message for them is to avoid the Westside,” Doug Failing, executive director of highway programs for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told the Los Angeles Times.
Officials are trying to prevent traffic jams and other forms of road rage by notifying citizens early and often of the construction, and urge people to stay away from neighborhoods such as Westwood, Bel-Air and Brentwood that weekend. To spread the word, public safety workers are using news outlets, email blasts, websites and social media. They have even encouraged celebrities to tweet about the closure in order to create more awareness.
“My primary objective is that … by July 15 every man, woman and child in Los Angeles County will know that the 405 is going to be closed that weekend,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the Los Angeles Times. “If people know ahead of time and make plans ahead of time, we will be able to get through that weekend with a minimum of angst and congestion.”
Local businesses are preparing for the traffic changes. The Getty Center and the Skirball Cultural Center will close down for the weekend, and travelers to and from LAX are advised to take a FlyAway bus to Union Station. Doctors and nurses at the four major L.A. hospitals are making preparations to house their staffs overnight, but most are upset about the closure and are concerned for patient safety.
“We need to suck it up,” Yaroslavsky said. He said getting through the weekend will be about preparation and cooperation.