Carmageddon II: Officials hope for early end to 405 closure
This story has been corrected. See note below.
Demolition work on a bridge spanning the 405 Freeway is on schedule, officials say, and they are hopeful that Carmageddon II can be brought to an early close.
“We are hoping for that. We are optimistic,” said Deputy Chief Jorge A. Villegas of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has rescheduled a 10 p.m. news conference at the construction site for 5 p.m.
Last year, contractors tearing down half of the Mulholland Drive bridge finished about 17 hours ahead of schedule. The work is part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane along a stretch of the Sepulveda Pass.
Part II began Saturday, when the 405 Freeway was shut down between the 10 and 101 freeways so that construction crews could demolish the remaining half of the bridge. They plan to have the work done in time for the Monday morning commute.
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Whether the 10-mile closure ends early is partly contingent on other improvement projects that are happening at the same time, said LAPD Lt. Andy Nieman at the city’s Emergency Operations Center.
[Updated, 5:30 p.m.: The repaving, girder reinformcement and other construction-related work is scheduled to be completed Sunday, said Kasey Shuda, the project's community relations officer.
Authorities are also taking advantage of the closure to do maintenance, including paint work, crack filling and tree trimming and other maintenance -- work that would normally take seven weeks to complete, according to the California Department of Transportation.]
Kelly Markham, a department spokeswoman, said the maintenance work would not affect the opening time and crews can be out of the area in 20 minutes.
So far, drivers appear to be heeding appeals to park their cars and enjoy their neighborhoods on foot during the closure.
“We’ve seen an increase in pedestrians in the areas that have restaurants and boutiques,” Villegas said.
At least four rollerbladers and three pedestrians were cited Sunday for incursions on the 405 Freeway, said Calvin Aubrey, an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol.
The only significant traffic buildup has been on the southbound 405 freeway from the 10 to Culver Boulevard, said CHP spokeswoman Charmaine Fajardo. She attributed that to the closure of stretches of some of the busiest Westside and downtown streets to accommodate about 2,500 participants in the Herbalife Triathlon Los Angeles.
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The event, which began late because of high surf, was expected to wrap up around 1 p.m.
Authorities are also warning of traffic around Dodger Stadium, where a game is scheduled this afternoon.
Another possible byproduct of the freeway closure: Villegas said there has been a decrease in the number of reported crimes in surrounding neighborhoods, which he attributed to the increased police presence.
[For the record: This story originally said that maintenace work done during the freeway closure would normally take seven months to complete. It also implied that the demolition and maintenance work were on the same schedule.]
-- Alexandra Zavis at the Emergency Operations Center
Photo: Caltrans crews work on the empty Sepulveda Pass. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/ For The Times.