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Category: Carmageddon

'Angelenos Against Gridlock' protests delays in 405 widening

A group calling itself Angelenos Against Gridlock plans a demonstration Saturday afternoon to protest delays in the 405 Freeway widening project.

David Murphy, the group's president, said the 2 p.m. protest would be held on the sidewalk outside the Westwood Federal Building at 11000 Wilshire Boulevard.

Months of delays and added costs recently announced at a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority construction meeting "will have an onerous effect on commuters, businesses and residents," Murphy said.

Metro said much of the delay relates to the complexities of locating and moving utility lines along Sepulveda Boulevard through the Sepulveda Pass. Most of that work has been completed, but it took longer than expected.

The $1-billion-plus project's key goal is to add a 10-mile carpool lane between the 10 and the 101 freeways. To accomplish that, workers have had to demolish and rebuild a number of bridges and entrance and exit ramps.

After three years of work, Metro reported this week that the project was two-thirds complete. It said segments would continue to be opened in phases.

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Carmageddon II: Skateboarder rides stretch of empty 405 Freeway

Cindywhitehead
Authorities cited the newlyweds who tried to get on the closed 405 Freeway over the weekend. And the group of rollerbladers.

But they didn't see Cindy Whitehead.

Whitehead, a former professional skateboarder who lives in Hermosa Beach, said she took her board out for a two-minute ride down the empty 405 on Sunday, during the Carmageddon II closure that kept drivers off 10 miles of one of the nation's busiest freeways.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II

Inspired by the friends who had a dinner party on the vacant freeway during last year's Carmageddon, Whitehead and her husband, Ian Logan, started talking about skateboarding on the freeway about a month ago.

"They were kind of my heroes," she said of the trio that photographed the dinner party. "I was thinking, 'God, I'm so stupid. I should have skateboarded down the 405.'"

But by Friday, Whitehead said she had decided against it. The risks were too high—officials had warned they wouldn't tolerate pranksters, and she thought it would be too difficult to get past barricades.

FULL COVERAGE: Carmageddon II

The next night, she changed her mind.

Continue reading »

Carmageddon II: 405 Freeway reopens well before morning commute

Carmageddon

"THANKS AGAIN LOS ANGELES."

Signs along the 5, 110 and 105 freeways flashed gratitude early Monday as commuters were reminded that the 405 Freeway had indeed reopened after the second Carmageddon, which ended ahead of schedule the night before.

A 10-mile stretch of the 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways was closed over the weekend as crews demolished the northern span of the Mulholland Drive bridge, part of a $1-billion, four-year project to add a northbound carpool lane to the freeway. The closed section was opened to traffic by about 10 p.m. Sunday, seven hours ahead of schedule.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared the weekend "a resounding success," speaking in English and Spanish at a news conference at "Camp Carmageddon" overlooking the nation's busiest freeway. It was not just that work crews kept on schedule despite 100-degree heat and other challenges, he said, but that freeway-loving Southern Californians showed once again that they could handle the temporary blockage of a major artery without suffering a heart attack.

"People understood they needed to stay away from the area," Villaraigosa said. "They did what they needed to do to make sure it went as smoothly as it did."

Traffic flowed relatively smoothly throughout the Southland on Sunday as word of the closure saturated the airwaves and flashed on electronic freeway alert signs as far away as the Bay Area.

Most daredevils and free spirits resisted the temptation to exploit the empty freeway -- apparently heeding the stern California Highway Patrol warning of "zero tolerance" for pranksters. Authorities made no arrests, and by Sunday night had issued only seven citations: four to a group of inline skaters and three to pedestrians. Two of them were newlyweds.

"Their wedding gift was a citation," CHP Officer Rick Quintero said.

While motorists opted for alternate routes or alternate modes of transportation, or just stayed home, transportation officials deployed extra crews along the Sepulveda Pass to fill potholes, trim trees and pave three southbound lanes -- weeks of work squeezed into a two-day time frame.

Work crews also contended with a considerably bigger job. The northern span of the bridge demolished over the weekend was longer than the southern span knocked down last year, and the entire undertaking was more delicate because workers had to protect the newly built portion.

"This was the mother of all public works projects in Los Angeles," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the Sepulveda Pass. "This has not been easy."

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Photo: Commuters make their way along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass on Monday morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon II: Slow-speed motorcade opens the 405 Freeway

Freeway405_600px
The sirens could first be heard ringing through the Sepulveda Pass near the Mulholland Bridge at 9:32 p.m., but it took another five minutes for the first of the California Highway Patrol cars to make it there.

Following the patrol cars was a parade of industrial trucks -- arrow-pointing trucks, dump trucks, pickup trucks -- accompanied by the howl of sirens.

Then, by 9:40, the first motorists began crossing underneath the bridge. They inched down the freeway, many with their windows down to feel the cool night breeze and smell the earthy scent lingering after the opposite side of the freeway was scrubbed.

They honked. They waved their arms out the windows. A number of them bellowed words of gratitude to workers. One man in a sports car was trying to mug for the news cameras as he drove.

By 9:48, drivers were plowing north at full speed. The 405 Freeway was back in business.

-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Cars stream north on the 405 Freeway, ahead of schedule, over the Sepulveda Pass on Sunday night. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times

Carmaggedon II: 405 Freeway is slowly reopening to traffic

An empty 405 for a bit longer

The process of reopening the 405 Freeway -- ending Carmageddon II -- is underway, and the freeway should be fully open by 11 p.m.

On-ramps and roadways were begin to reopen at 8:45 p.m., several hours earlier than scheduled. Northbound lanes will open first, followed by southbound lanes. The entire process should take about three hours.

The freeway closure began Friday night and had officials worried about the potential for massive gridlock throughout the region. It was supposed to last until 5 a.m. Monday; now the freeway probably will finish reopening much earlier.

There was a similar freeway closure, also dubbed Carmageddon, in July of last year. That freeway closure also ended much earlier than originally expected.

California Highway Patrol officers cited seven people on the 405 Freeway on Sunday morning, including a group of rollerbladers and a pair of newlyweds who wanted to celebrate on the closed roadway.

Officer Rick Quintero said the first citation was issued about 3 a.m., when a pedestrian tried to enter the northbound lanes of the freeway at Sunset Boulevard.

FULL COVERAGE: Carmageddon II

About 40 minutes later at the same spot, two people were cited for trying to get on the southbound lanes of the freeway. The couple were "recently married and wanted to celebrate on the freeway," Quintero said.

"Their wedding gift was a citation," he said.

The final round came about 6 a.m., when officers discovered four rollerbladers exiting the freeway near the Getty Center, Quintero said.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II

All seven people were cited, not arrested, for being pedestrians on a freeway, Quintero said.

The CHP warned earlier this week there would be "zero tolerance" for pranksters hoping to repeat some of the antics seen last year during the first Carmageddon.

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Construction crews work on the Mulholland Drive bridge over the closed 405 Freeway on Saturday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon II: 405 Freeway to reopen ahead of schedule

L.A. coping well with Carmageddon II

Carmageddon II is likely to end early, several hours ahead of the Monday morning rush hour.

Mike Barbour, head of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvement Project, said that the 10-miles of closed northbound lanes on the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 Freeways are likely to reopen as early as 8:45 p.m.

Some of the roadblocks were already being removed.

The southbound lanes on the 405, which are closed between the 101 Freeway and the ramps at Getty Center Drive, will likely reopen soon after, Barbour said. He said the plan was not definitive but that crews were in the final cleanup stages and the contractor was shooting to reopen the freeway as soon as possible.

The freeway closure began Friday night and had officials worried about the potential for massive gridlock throughout the region. It was supposed to last until 5 a.m. Monday, but will now likely reopen much earlier.

There was a similar freeway closure in July of last year, which first earned the moniker Carmageddon. That freeway closure also ended much earlier than originally expected.

California Highway Patrol officers cited seven people on the 405 Freeway on Sunday morning, including a group of rollerbladers and newlyweds who wanted to celebrate on the closed roadway.

Officer Rick Quintero said the first citation came about 3 a.m., when a pedestrian was cited for trying to enter the northbound lanes of the freeway at Sunset Boulevard.

FULL COVERAGE: Carmageddon II

The next two citations came about 40 minutes later at the same spot when two people were cited for trying to get on the southbound lanes of the freeway. The two were "recently married and wanted to celebrate on the freeway," Quintero said.

"Their wedding gift was a citation," he said.

The final round came about 6 a.m., when officers discovered four rollerbladers exiting the freeway near the Getty Center, Quintero said.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II

All seven people were cited, not arrested, for being pedestrians on a freeway, Quintero said.

CHP warned earlier this week there would be "zero tolerance" for pranksters hoping to repeat some of the antics seen during the first Carmageddon last year.

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: A truck removes debris as workers demolish the final pillar of the Mulholland Bridge over the 405 Freeway. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Carmageddon II: 405 will reopen at 5 a.m., Villaraigosa says

The 405 Freeway will reopen at 5 a.m. Monday as scheduled, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced.

“We’re not done yet,” Villaraigosa said Sunday afternoon at a news conference at the construction site on the Sepulveda Pass. “The freeway will not open until 5 a.m. in the morning. Thank you, L.A. Once again the 10-mile closure of nation’s busiest highway was a resounding success.”

The 405 Freeway was shut down between the 10 and 101 freeways this weekend so that construction crews could demolish the remaining half of the Mulholland Bridge. The work is part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a carpool lane along a stretch of the Sepulveda Pass.

Last year, the same section of freeway was shut down for demolition work. But that project finished 17 hours ahead of schedule.

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Time-lapse video of Carmageddon I

Carmageddon II: Different opinions on freeway widening

Carmageddon II: Rollerbladers, newlyweds cited at closed 405

-- Rick Rojas in the Sepulveda Pass

Carmageddon II: Stay away from Sepulveda Pass, officials warn

An empty 405 for a bit longer

Los Angeles police and fire officials are appealing to drivers to continue to stay out of the Sepulveda Pass area, saying that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s scheduled 5 p.m. news conference is not to announce that the 405 Freeway will reopen.

Officials said traffic was already built up on Sepulveda Boulevard on Sunday afternoon due to a stalled vehicle. They stressed that the roadway needs to remain clear so that emergency services have the access they need during the freeway closure. Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Alicia Mathis said, “There is still a lot more work that needs to be done.”

The 405 Freeway was shut down this weekend between the 10 and 101 freeways so that construction crews could demolish a portion of the Mulholland bridge. The work is part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane along a stretch of the Sepulveda Pass.

FULL COVERAGE: Carmageddon II

The demolition work was scheduled to be completed by 5 a.m. Monday.

Lt. Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department said the purpose of the mayor’s news conference is not to announce the re-opening of the 405 Freeway, but to provide an update on how work is progressing. Officials are still hopeful that the freeway will open before 5 am.

But Neiman said, "We don’t want people to start getting a false sense of security” and take to their cars in anticipation of a 5 p.m. opening.

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Carmageddon II: More street closures Sunday for triathlon

Carmageddon II: Rollerbladers, newlyweds cited at closed 405

Carmageddon II: Work continues on schedule; 405 set to reopen Monday

-- Alexandra Zavis at the Emergency Operations Center

Photo: Construction crews work on the Mulholland Drive bridge over the closed 405 Freeway on Saturday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon II: Officials hope for early end to 405 closure

Pass_mb6izcp7

This story has been corrected. See note below.

Demolition work on a bridge spanning the 405 Freeway is on schedule, officials say, and they are hopeful that Carmageddon II can be brought to an early close.

“We are hoping for that. We are optimistic,” said Deputy Chief Jorge A. Villegas of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has rescheduled a 10 p.m. news conference at the construction site for 5 p.m.

Last year, contractors tearing down half of the Mulholland Drive bridge finished about 17 hours ahead of schedule. The work is part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane along a stretch of the Sepulveda Pass.

Part II began Saturday, when the 405 Freeway was shut down between the 10 and 101 freeways so that construction crews could demolish the remaining half of the bridge. They plan to have the work done in time for the Monday morning commute.

FULL COVERAGE: Carmageddon II

Whether the 10-mile closure ends early is partly contingent on other improvement projects that are happening at the same time, said LAPD Lt. Andy Nieman at the city’s Emergency Operations Center.

[Updated, 5:30 p.m.: The repaving, girder reinformcement and other construction-related work is scheduled to be completed Sunday, said Kasey Shuda, the project's community relations officer.

Authorities are also taking advantage of the closure to do maintenance, including paint work, crack filling and tree trimming and other maintenance -- work that would normally take seven weeks to complete, according to the California Department of Transportation.]

Kelly Markham, a department spokeswoman, said the maintenance work would not affect the opening time and crews can be out of the area in 20 minutes.

So far, drivers appear to be heeding appeals to park their cars and enjoy their neighborhoods on foot during the closure.

“We’ve seen an increase in pedestrians in the areas that have restaurants and boutiques,” Villegas said. 

At least four rollerbladers and three pedestrians were cited Sunday for incursions on the 405 Freeway, said Calvin Aubrey, an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol.

The only significant traffic buildup has been on the southbound 405 freeway from the 10 to Culver  Boulevard, said CHP spokeswoman Charmaine Fajardo. She attributed that to the closure of stretches of some of the busiest Westside and downtown streets to accommodate about 2,500 participants in the Herbalife Triathlon Los Angeles.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II: The sequel

The event, which began late because of high surf, was expected to wrap up around 1 p.m.

Authorities are also warning of traffic around Dodger Stadium, where a game is scheduled this afternoon.

Another possible byproduct of the freeway closure: Villegas said there has been a decrease in the number of reported crimes in surrounding neighborhoods, which he attributed to the increased police presence.

[For the record: This story originally said that maintenace work done during the freeway closure would normally take seven months to complete. It also implied that the demolition and maintenance work were on the same schedule.]

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Carmageddon II: Work continues on schedule; 405 set to reopen Monday

-- Alexandra Zavis at the Emergency Operations Center

Photo: Caltrans crews work on the empty Sepulveda Pass. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/ For The Times.

Carmageddon II: 405 Freeway expected to open before morning commute

Carmageddon
The 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway that has been closed since late Friday is set to reopen before the Monday morning rush hour, Metro officials said at a Sunday briefing at the construction site.

Three and a half of the Mulholland Bridge's four columns are down, as are the decks, said Marc Littman, a Metro spokesman. But Littman cautioned that plenty of work remained to be done.

"The official word is we're on schedule," he said.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II: The sequel

The freeway is scheduled to open at 5 a.m. Monday. The contractor faces a maximum $360,000 fine for every hour the deadline is not met.

Among the work left, Littman said, is removing the portion of the remaining column and to haul out mountains of debris that include 2,700 cubic yards of concrete and 300 tons of steel.

The bridge demolition work is part of a $1 billion freeway widening project that will add a new carpool lane to the 405.

Construction was slowed Saturday when a large chunk of concrete fell unexpectedly during demolition of a section of the bridge. Crews were able to demolish the section, along with two pillars, overnight, putting them back on schedule.

“This is not cause for concern,” officials said in a statement about the unexpected collapse. “It did not damage the newly constructed portion of the bridge nor should it cause any delays.”

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Carmageddon II: L.A. coping well with freeway closure

Carmageddon II: More street closures Sunday for triathlon

Carmageddon II: Rollerbladers, newlyweds cited at closed 405

— Rick Rojas and Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Construction crews work on the Mulholland Drive bridge over the closed 405 Freeway on Saturday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
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