Carmageddon: Crews tidy up 405 Freeway preparing for early reopening
Workers with street-sweeping equipment and push brooms were scooping up piles of debris and dust piles under the 80-foot-tall span.
Other workers were smoothing out rough edges on the deconstructed bridge with concrete saws and acetylene torches. Freshly painted stripes stretched around the bend of the dusty freeway.
Still others were preparing to recycle 4,000 tons of shattered concrete and tons more of twisted metal reinforcement bars.
"The concrete will be used in the base of the new carpool lanes," said Metro Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman. "I heard that the rebar will be sold to scrappers. I heard a lot of it may go overseas."
Littman added that "the money from those sales will go toward the construction project."
The suspense over exactly when the 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway would return to service grew among journalists encamped in a designated media staging area on Skirball Center Drive. The area provided a panoramic view of the construction site, roughly one-eighth of a mile to the north, where crew members wearing dust masks, helmets, goggles and work gloves and carrying equipment such as saws and shovels could be seen making final touches on the project.
Returning the freeway to normal traffic status was foremost on the minds of city and transportation officials and the contractor, Kiewit Pacific Co., which would have been charged $72,000 for every hour of delay in reopening one of the nation's busiest interstates by 6 a.m. for the Monday morning commute. But Sunday morning officials said the highway could be reopened as much as 19 hours early.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was expected to lead a news conference at the media staging area later Sunday morning.
-- Samantha Schaefer and Louis Sahagun
Photo: Crews begin to clean up dirt and debris after major demolition is finished on the Mulholland Drive bridge across the 405 Freeway. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times