Scenes from the 405 Freeway as Carmageddon gets underway
A smooth start to the weekend’s 405 Freeway closure Friday may have been helped by residents like Mounir Hajjar, who had planned for the worst.
Hajjar moved his doctor's appointment at an office on the corner of Santa Monica and Sepulveda boulevards twice to avoid the possible ill effects of Carmegeddon II, a two-day closure of the nation's busiest freeway for road improvements. He said he originally had it scheduled for 6 p.m., then 5 p.m., before finally grabbing a spot at 4:30.
He said the woman over the phone remarked that it was strange that every one was requesting earlier appointments.
"I laughed because she didn't know why, but I knew why," the 39-year-old hospitality manager said about 6:15 outside a coffee shop on the Westside.
Hajjar said he had his uncle drop him off early to avoid getting stuck in normal traffic heading back to his Northridge home, where Hajjar has been staying.
So they left at noon for his 4:30 appointment.
And Hajjar said he offered to stay Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday night at his friend's home in South Pasadena so his uncle didn't have to drive from the Valley to the Westside and back to the Valley, potentially getting stuck in post-405 closure traffic.
He said he was waiting for his friend to pick him up to go to South Pasadena.
Around 6:40, the 53-year-old put on his round glasses, looked down at his iPhone and took a drag from a skinny cigarette.
He was waiting to be dispatched to a pickup, but he wasn't holding his breath. There were two cab drivers ahead of him in the queue and, if the last time the freeway was closed was a harbinger, Carmaggedon II wouldn't be good for his business.
"Business was slow. Everyone stayed home, I guess. I just remember being not busy, not busy at all," Miketyan said.
About a half hour later, moments after two siren-blaring fire trucks barreled onto the 405 South entrance ramp, Miketyan stopped for a red light at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Sherman Oaks Avenue.
"I got a call," he said though a smile. "Maybe tonight will be OK."
About half a dozen traffic workers gathered at the 76 gas station at Moraga Street and Sepulveda in Bel-Air, just across the street from a 405 exit around 7 p.m., awaiting word that it was time to shut it down.
The Moraga Street ramp was slated to close at 8, said Pepe Sato, a traffic worker covered from head to toe in reflective clothing.
"It's going to be the exact same as last year," said Sato, who also worked last summer's closing of the 405.
"We'll drop these cones, clear the freeway and come back on Sunday."
-- Andrew Khouri, Marisa Gerber and Wesley Lowery