Sunset Boulevard bridge over 405 Freeway reopens
Hailed as an "important milestone" in the $1-billion 405 Freeway-widening project, a wider and stronger Sunset Boulevard bridge reopened early Monday morning.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and transportation officials were on hand to remove the last traffic cones and open two new lanes on the busy bridge, which is used by as many as 22,000 vehicles on a typical weekday.
Construction began two years and two months ago. The Sunset bridge is one of several spans involved in the project and is the first to reopen.
The bridge has been seismically upgraded and widened by 30 feet, to 120 feet, as part of the massive project to add a northbound carpool lane to the 405, one of the nation's busiest highways. The bridge has grown from six lanes to eight and includes two dedicated-turn lanes in each direction.
The structure is also about 5 feet higher than its predecessor and contains new water and utility lines.
"This is an important milestone in the project," said Vivian Rescalvo, transportation deputy for Yaroslavsky. "We're hoping with this bridge opening, people start to feel better about the traffic situation."
Yaroslavsky is a member of the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which teamed with the California Department of Transportation on the project.
The bridge had to grow to accommodate the northbound carpool lane the project is adding on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass. That addition will fill the last gap in the 405 carpool lane network between Orange County and the San Fernando Valley. When completed, it will be the longest continuous carpool lane, at 48 miles, in the country, said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.
At the least, the reopening is a glimmer of good news as motorists brace for "Carmageddon II," next weekend's planned full-freeway closure of the northbound and southbound 405. During that shutdown, construction crews will demolish the northern half of the Mulholland Drive bridge so that the span can be widened.
— Martha Groves and Kate Mather