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'Carmageddon II' success requires 185,000 to 'park it,' officials say

September 25, 2012 |  1:13 pm

Standing in front of giant monitors showing live traffic patterns around the region, Caltrans’ local director on Tuesday said roughly 185,000 motorists must stay off the nation’s busiest freeway on Saturday and Sunday if this weekend’s “Carmageddon II” is to be a success.

Nearly identical to a closure last year that earned the moniker “Carmageddon” because officials feared  chaos would occur on surrounding streets, a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 will be shut down for 53 hours starting Saturday. During that time, construction crews plan to demolish the remaining part of the Mulholland Drive bridge spanning the road.

The work is part of a larger $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane.

At a news conference inside the L.A. Regional Transportation Management Center, Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles said that in order to avoid gridlock over the closure weekend, “we need to keep approximately two-thirds of the vehicles off the system that normally travel on the San Diego Freeway.”

“That’s about 185,000 cars that we need to stay home and not drive,” Miles said. “We expect a lot of congestion if you don’t stay home.”

Miles also said that worst-case scenario projections for the closure weekend show traffic backed up to Kern County.

Last year’s Carmageddon closure came with similar warnings, but drivers largely heeded calls to stay off the road and the potential for epic congestion was never realized. But officials worry that the success of the first Carmageddon will work against them this coming weekend and that motorists may not take the warnings as seriously.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

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