Carmageddon: A word that got attention, and creator gets his due [Updated]
Standing in front of a wall of screens showing traffic flowing at the Los Angeles Regional Transportation Management Center in Eagle Rock, Mike Miles said he was pleased at how the public has responded to warnings about "Carmageddon."
Miles, California Department of Transportation District 7 director, expressed gratitude to Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for coining the phrase “Carmageddon.” Yaroslavsky said it at an early press conference to warn motorists about the 405 closure.
“That’s when people started saying the world’s going to end. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes sometimes,” Miles said.
If officials had treated it like an ordinary road closure, Miles said he did not think as many people would be staying away from the freeways.
Zoe Yue, a Caltrans deputy director of operations, agreed, adding: “That piece of the puzzle is always missing because we can’t control the public. We can only ask for their cooperation.... That’s why we always have to prepare for the worst. This media outreach is really helping.”
[Updated, 4:15 p.m: Yaroslavsky said he couldn’t claim to have invented the expression, “but I did make it famous."
"There was no middle ground here, we had to penetrate the consciousness of Los Angeles motorists," Yaroslavsky said. "If the word Carmageddon did anything, it reduced this challenge to one word that everyone understood."
So far, he said, the public response has exceeded his expectations. "Carmageddon has turned into Carmaheaven."]
-- Alexandra Zavis
Photo: Adam Kessel, left, and Glen Greenberg hawk "Carmaggedon 405" T-shirts for $10 at the corner of Ventura and Van Nuys. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times