Carmageddon II warning: 'Don’t get on the freeway'
A few hours before authorities start closing ramps and shutting down lanes on the 405 Freeway on Friday night, several public officials at a news conference near downtown Los Angeles repeated their plea for motorists to stay off the road this weekend and warned of the potential for massive gridlock if drivers become complacent.
“Eat, play, shop locally. Don’t get on the freeway,” said Richard Katz, chairman of Metrolink’s Board of Directors.
“Stay away, be prepared if you do have to drive on the freeway system,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles.
“We’re going to get this bridge taken down and open up the freeway as soon as we can. In the meantime, people need to stay away from the area, try to stay off the freeway, take Metro,” said Art Leahy, head of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Carmageddon II, this weekend’s closure of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 Freeways, begins tonight when officials start closing on- and offramps at 7 p.m. At 10 p.m., authorities will begin closing lanes on the 405 and say the full freeway will be closed by midnight.
The closure is scheduled to last 53 hours, and officials said they hope to have the stretch open by rush hour early Monday morning.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in summing up the comments at Friday evening’s news conference at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, said: “We’re all on message: Stay out of your car, everybody.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke Friday with Times transportation reporter Ari Bloomekatz about the freeway closure during a live Google+ Hangout.
Angelenos should shop locally and especially stay away from the Westside, Villaraigosa said. After last year’s “Carmaheaven,” city officials are hoping for a repeat by encouraging residents to eat at neighborhood restaurants, stay home and barbecue or finish up those “honey do” lists.
Though some residents took to the freeways as last year’s closure drew to an end, Villaraigosa said residents should avoid the freeways throughout this entire weekend -- even if the roads look tempting.
“For that entire 53-hour period, stay the course. Whatever you do at the beginning, continue to do at the end in terms of responding to our call not to get in your car,” he said.
For drivers who must hit the freeways, Caltrans suggests they look at the agency's new traffic website, QuickMap. Those using public transit can check out Metro's Trip Planner. Motorists can also call 511 or click on go511.com to get real-time traffic information.
-- Ari Bloomekatz
Photo: The undemolished north side of the Mulholland Bridge can be seen after last year's 405 Freeway closure. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times