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Carmageddon: Bridge demolition enters 'critical phase'

July 16, 2011 |  8:57 pm

Click here for more photos As the sun set Saturday night, workers demolishing the Mulholland Drive bridge switched on bright lights and began one of the most delicate phases of the operation: using diamond-sheathed wire saws to cut through the "bent caps" that top the columns holding up the bridge.

"We are entering into a critical phase," said Doug Failing, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's executive director of highway programs, describing the operation as a "slow and arduous" one where "lots of things could go wrong."

Among the issues: There is a gas line that runs through the bridge, and if it ruptures, that could create massive problems.

PHOTOS: 'Carmageddon' closes the 405 Freeway

Failing estimated the process could take 10 hours or longer. There are two caps and each is 18 feet long and 6 feet wide, made of concrete and steel.

When that process is complete, hopefully by early Sunday morning, Failing said, officials will be better able to assess when the freeway can reopen. He said he is very pleased with the quick progress so far.


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-- Ashlie Rodriguez at Skirball Center Drive near the construction site

Photo: Sparks fly as demolition continues on the Mulholland Drive bridge over the 405 Freeway on Saturday. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times