Carmageddon II: Road crews already hard at work
Construction workers were hard at work early Saturday morning demolishing a portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge along the 405 Freeway, the start of Carmageddon II -- a 10-mile closure of the nation’s busiest freeway.
Workers have 53 hours to complete the demolition work so that the freeway, which is shut down in both directions between the 10 and 101 freeways, can reopen by 5 a.m. Monday. The bridge and its pillars are being replaced so that the freeway can be widened.
On Friday evening, crews gradually shut down ramps and closed traffic lanes to make room for a small army of construction workers.
Demolishing, and then rebuilding, the bridge is part of a $1-billion improvement project that includes the new carpool lane.
On Saturday, crews will be dumping 1,200 cubic yards of dirt underneath the 80-foot-tall bridge so that falling debris does not damage the freeway roadbed below.
Workers will use jackhammers to ram and punch through the top of the bridge and chip away at girders underneath the structure. They will also remove the beams on top of the columns that help support the bridge, and then remove the 70-foot concrete-and-steel pylons.
The closure area of the 405 normally carries 250,000 motorists each day on an average weekend. Caltrans officials said that in order for Carmageddon II to be a success, at least two-thirds of those drivers need to stay off the road.
About 6 a.m. Saturday, LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez said that so far things were going smoothly.
“The freeway shut down as scheduled," said Lopez, who had just finished an eight-hour stint manning the media lines. "It’s been a long night.”
Everything unfolded without incident at the site and on the nearby surface streets, he said.
“If there were any accidents, it didn’t hit our radar,” Lopez said. “It appears the community is heeding the advice. Traffic is light in and around the closure.”
Meanwhile, the construction crew was hard at work in a race to meet its deadline.
"They are out there hammering away,” Lopez said.
-- Ari Bloomekatz and Marisa GerberPhoto: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times