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Carmageddon sequel gets positive spin from city officials

August 3, 2012 |  7:08 am

Focusing on apocalyptic traffic warnings for next month’s 405 Freeway closure is not the best way to keep drivers off the road, L.A. city and county officials said Thursday. Instead, they stressed the joys of a carless weekend.  

"We can't do what we did last time," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "So this time around, we're not going to say, 'Folks, look, we're going to have the worst traffic ever.' We all know that's possible. What we're going to say is, 'What about another day without a car in L.A.? What about Angelenos accepting the challenge to stay out of their car?' "

"Carmageddon" was the popular term for the 10-mile closure of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass for a weekend last year as construction crews demolished the south side of the Mulholland Drive bridge that spans the freeway. The work is part of a $1-billion project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane on the 405.

This fall's sequel returns Sept. 29 and 30 when the same section -- between the 10 and the 101 freeways -- will be fully closed for 53 hours so crews can demolish the other half of the bridge.

Workers will begin closing freeway ramps along the route about 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. They will start closing traffic lanes at 10 p.m. so that the entire section will be shut down by midnight. The closure is scheduled to end by 5 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, with ramps and connectors opening an hour later.

Last year, crews were able to finish the work quickly and the freeway opened 17 hours early. But that probably won't happen this time, officials said, because there's more work to do and because the extended closure will be used as an opportunity to take on other jobs.

While officials were thrilled with how smoothly last year's closure went, they worry that motorists will think they can take to the roads this time without any major issues.

"Even though we had an uneventful Carmageddon back in July of 2011, the only reason we had that is because the public stayed off the roads, not only the 405 and the roads leading to it, but throughout the region," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

"Stay home, stay in the neighborhood, stay off the freeways. Whatever ... you do, don't come near the 405 corridor," Yaroslavsky said.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

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