Carmageddon II: L.A. coping well with freeway closure
Day 2 of Carmageddon II began with few problems as construction crews continued their work on the closed 405 Freeway and were still confident they will have the roadway open by the Monday morning commute.
Traffic continued to flow relatively smoothly, and law enforcement officials said the only action was the citation of several people who sneaked onto the closed 405.
Construction crews working on the 405 Freeway widening project were back on schedule after suffering a glitch when a large chunk of concrete fell unexpectedly during demolition of a section of the Mulholland Bridge, forcing a work slowdown.
Officials said the large section of concrete was demolished overnight, along with two pillars from the bridge, and that a 10-mile section of the freeway that is closed this weekend for the demolition work is expected to open at 5 a.m. Monday as planned.
The bridge demolition work is part of a $1 billion freeway widening project that will add a new carpool lane to the 405 Freeway.
After a quick assessment of Saturday's incident, engineers determined that the bridge demolition could go forward.
“This is not cause for concern,” officials said in a statement about the unexpected collapse. “It did not damage the newly constructed portion of the bridge nor should it cause any delays.”
Meanwhile, stretches of some of Los Angeles’ busiest Westside and downtown streets were closed Sunday to accommodate about 2,500 participants in the HerbalLife Triathlon Los Angeles, which began in Venice Beach at 7:15 a.m.
The closure of parts of Venice Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue may add to congestion on the Westside because of the temporary shutdown of the 405 Freeway. Venice Boulevard was expected to reopen about 10 a.m.
At sunrise, more than a hundred people were milling around the starting point of the triathlon. Samia Karimi, 38, and her daughter, Sophia, 5, came out to see Karimi’s boyfriend, Andrew Kwan, participate in the event.
Karimi said she drove to Los Angeles from her home in Simi Valley about 8 p.m. Friday, avoiding the 405 Freeway.
"There's always PCH," she said, referring to Pacific Coast Highway.
What's tougher, dealing with the 405 at rush hour or a triathlon?
"405. Definitely," said B.J. Wickett, 34, who was competing in his ninth triathlon.
From the time the race began until about 12:15 p.m., workers are closing a portion of Olympic Boulevard as athletes make their way downtown.
The final two closures will occur on Olympic Boulevard from Cherry to Figueroa Street, and on Grand Avenue from 11th Street to 1st Street, officials said. The triathletes will end the competition at L.A. Live, and downtown streets should be reopened no later than noon.
California Highway Patrol officers cited seven people on the 405 Freeway on Sunday morning, including a group of rollerbladers and newlyweds who wanted to celebrate on the closed roadway.
Officer Rick Quintero said the first citation came about 3 a.m. when a pedestrian was cited for trying to enter the northbound lanes of the freeway at Sunset Boulevard.
The next two citations came about 40 minutes later at the same spot when two people were cited for trying to get on the southbound lanes of the freeway. The two were "recently married and wanted to celebrate on the freeway," Quintero said.
"Their wedding gift was a citation," he said.
The final round came about 6 a.m. when officers discovered four rollerbladers exiting the freeway near the Getty Center, Quintero said.
All seven people were cited, not arrested, for being pedestrians on a freeway, Quintero said.
CHP warned earlier this week there would be "zero tolerance" for pranksters hoping to repeat some of the antics seen during the first Carmageddon last year.
--Kate Mather, Ari Bloomekatz and Joseph Serna
Photo: A truck removes debris as workers demolish the final pillar of the Mulholland Drive bridge in the Sepulveda Pass over the 405 Freeway. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / For the Los Angeles Times