Carmageddon II off to smooth start; bridge demolition well underway
Carmageddon II was off to a smooth start Saturday, as motorists got through detours with little trouble and some appeared to stay off the roads all together during the two-day closure of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.
Motorists reported few major delays on Sepulveda Boulevard and other alternate routes. And so far, it appeared people were heeding the call to stay away from the closed freeway. Last year, during Carmageddon I, some people sneaked onto the roadway to pull various pranks.
But officials said the real test would come in the next few hours as more motorists get on the roads.
Carmageddon was sparking some lighthearted events, as well as special deals at some businesses along the route.
A big, white banner outside the Blue Dog Beer Tavern near the 405 in Sherman Oaks touted the "Carmaggedon Burger."
Nearby, Whole Foods Market hosted a Carmageddon II pancake breakfast for people who dropped off perishable foods at a stand outside the grocery store.
And a block away, a bright orange sign lured locals to a garage sale. The sellers hope the 10-mile freeway closure this weekend can provide a shot in the arm for business.
"We figured people would be staying in the Valley," Jill Sanders said, as she took three dollar bills from a customer and shoved them inside her fanny pack.
The 405 was shut down between the 10 and 101 freeways for 53 hours starting Saturday so that construction crews can demolish the north remaining half of the Mulholland Drive bridge, part of a larger $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane.At noon, officials put out a statement saying: "On schedule and things are going well. Demolition of the center span [over the freeway] is nearly complete. Slotting of the top desk on the two outer spans is 40% complete."
Fearing gridlock because of the closure, officials have called for motorists to stay off the road this weekend unless absolutely necessary. Approximately 250,000 motorists use the closed portion of the 405 each day on an average weekend and officials say they need two-thirds of those drivers to avoid the area.
Lt. Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department said there have been reports that large commercial trucks are using Sepulveda Boulevard to bypass the freeway closure, but that poses problems because of a tunnel along that stretch and because the road is restricted to certain heights and weights.
"We absolutely cannot have that," Neiman said, adding that he worries the trucks could cause a traffic jam or other problems.
"The concern is if those trucks break down, damage the roadway, damage the tunnel or get stuck, it becomes a huge issue for the community," Neiman said.
Motorists can get the latest information via the Nixle notification service by texting the keyword "405FWY" to 888-777, or by registering at the Nixle website for email updates.
ALSO:Carmageddon II: Motorists can get updates by cellphone, email
-- Matt Stevens, Ari Bloomekatz and Marisa Gerber