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Category: Carmageddon

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.

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Carmageddon II freeway closure goes smoothly; bridge demolition to begin


The closure of a 10-mile section of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass was completed just after midnight Saturday morning with no reports of traffic snarls or other problems, officials said.

Motorists are being advised to stay away from the area for the enitre Carmageddon II weekend to avoid creating gridlock on nearby streets and canyon roads, as well as other freeways. Planners say 185,000 trips through the area need to be eliminated to prevent major traffic tie ups.

The shutdown of the busy north-south freeway artery marked the beginning of a carefully choreographed weekend of demolition of part of the Mullholland Drive bridge. Work crews were preparing to move in and begin covering the freeway beneath the bridge with 4 feet of dirt to protect it from falling steel and concrete as half the span is demolished beginning early Saturday morning.


Heavy equipment, including large excavators with ramming hoes, will begin breaking up and pulling down the top section of the bridge. Starting late Saturday or early Sunday, concrete support columns will be removed. In all, the freeway is expected to be closed between the 10 and 101 freeways for 53 hours, reopening before rush hour Monday morning.

The entire northbound 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 Freeways is closed, but the southbound side is closed only from the 101 Freeway to Getty Center Drive.

The work is part of a $1-billion project that includes widening the freeway to add a northbound carpool lane through part of the Sepulveda Pass.


Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Submit photos: How will you spend Carmageddon II?

Navigating Carmageddon II [Google+ Hangout on Air]

--Ari Bloomekatz

Photos: Team leader Cpt. Martin Enriquez prepares for Carmageddon II in front of screens showing Interstate 405 traffic at the Emergency Operations Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

For one hotel, Carmageddon II is a blessing


For most people, proximity to the 10-mile closure area of the 405 Freeway is a curse.

But for the Courtyard Marriott close to the intersection of the 405 and the 101, it's a blessing. The hotel is putting up a lot of the Carmaggedon construction workers, said Steve Flores, 23, who worked the hotel's front desk Friday night.

Unlike a typical night, Flores said, all of the rooms were filled -- mainly with construction workers.


"If they're not there yet, they'll probably be sitting over at the bar soon," he said.

A few minutes before 9 p.m., a cameraman chased two neon yellow-clad construction workers as they plopped down orange cones and dragged "ramp closed" signs into place at the Ventura Boulevard onramp to the southbound 405 in Sherman Oaks.

As the last few cones went up, a blue Impala slowed near the intersection. The driver stuck his head out in wonder, raised his fist and screamed at the construction workers: "Why?"

The workers laughed and pointed to an orange sign: "Ramp closed. Use ramp at Getty Center Dr."


Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Submit photos: How will you spend Carmageddon II?

Navigating Carmageddon II [Google+ Hangout on Air]

-- Marisa Gerber in Sherman Oaks

Photo: "Ramp closed" signs herald the start of Carmageddon II. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Carmageddon II off to a smooth start, officials say


The beginning of operation Carmageddon II is moving smoothly, if not better than expected, authorities said Friday evening.

Crews began closing ramps about 7 p.m. along the 10-mile closure area of the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 Freeways. First to close were the northbound onramp from Getty Center Drive and the northbound offramp to Skirball Center Drive.

Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department said just before 8:30 p.m. that the work was proceeding without a hitch.


Later in the evening, about 10 p.m., authorities plan to start closing individual lanes on the freeway so the entire stretch can be fully shut down by midnight.

The closure is scheduled to last 53 hours. Officials hope to reopen the stretch before rush hour early Monday.

The closure will allow construction crews to demolish the remaining half of the Mulholland Drive bridge, part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes adding a northbound carpool lane along that stretch of the Sepulveda Pass. There was a similar Carmageddon weekend closure in July 2011,  when crews demolished the first half of the bridge.

Chris Ipsen of the city of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department said that as of 8:30 p.m. Friday, traffic throughout the region's freeway network was light compared to a normal Friday evening. The exception was the northbound 405, which still appeared a bit congested, he said.

"Looks like people are hopefully starting to gear up to not go anywhere for the weekend," Ipsen said.


Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Submit photos: How will you spend Carmageddon II?

Navigating Carmageddon II [Google+ Hangout on Air]

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: The northbound 405 onramp at Skirball Center Drive is closed as construction crews begin working in the Sepulveda Pass. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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.

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Ask the Mayor: Is L.A. ready for another Carmageddon? [Google+ Hangout]

In a few hours, a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass will be closed for the second time in 14 months.

Carmageddon II is the second half of a major hurdle in a $1-billion road improvement project that includes demolishing an 80-foot-tall bridge so it can be rebuilt wider, and adding a northbound 405 carpool lane through that stretch of the Sepulveda Pass.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke Friday with Times transportation reporter Ari Bloomekatz about the freeway closure during a live Google+ Hangout.

Angelenos should stay home this weekend, 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.

Let us know how you're spending the weekend by tweeting @LANow or submitting your photos here, and be sure to let us know where you are!


Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Submit photos: How will you spend Carmageddon II?

Navigating Carmageddon II [Google+ Hangout on Air]

-- Samantha Schaefer

Bicyclists take to streets during Carmageddon II weekend

Among the popular heroes who emerged from the first Carmageddon freeway closure in July of last year was a group of bicyclists from Wolfpack Hustle who challenged Jet Blue to a race from Burbank to Long Beach. The jet flew, the bicyclists pedaled, and the bicyclists won.

The event made international news and the race came to symbolize L.A.’s growing resistance against the identity of a car-crazed culture.

Fourteen months later and with another Carmageddon to brave this weekend, the Wolfpack Hustle bicyclists are back, teaming up with the Midnight Ridazz bike group for an open-invite “Carmaheaven All City Bike Ride.”

The ride starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and bicyclists are invited to meet at “Grand Park on the event lawn across from City Hall steps,” according to a news release from Wolfpack Hustle.

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Submit photos: How will you spend Carmageddon II?

For Carmageddon to go smoothly for a second year in a row, officials estimate about 185,000 people will have to park it this weekend.

So how will you spend the weekend? Officials are hoping Angelenos will stay off the roads -- or at least out of their cars -- and take advantage of  discounted train tickets to Santa Barbara, deals at local businesses, Artmageddon and a plea to "eat, shop and play locally,"


If drivers must hit the freeways, Caltrans suggests they look at its 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.

How will you get around this weekend? Do you plan on staying local or getting out of town? Let us know by tweeting @LANow with the hashtag #latcarmageddon or by leaving a comment below or on our Local News Facebook page. Submit your photos from the weekend here, and be sure to let us know where you are!


Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Navigating Carmageddon II [Google+ Hangout on Air]

Carmageddon too? Venice Boulevard to close Sunday for triathlon

-- Samantha Schaefer

Carmageddon too? Venice Boulevard to close Sunday for triathlon

It's not just a key north-south portion of the 405 Freeway that will close this weekend during Carmageddon II. Venice Boulevard, a popular east-west route, will be shut down from the beach to downtown L.A. for much of Sunday to accommodate about 2,500 participants in a triathlon.

The dual closures promise travel headaches for the unprepared, and Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl on Friday urged motorists to plan and to be patient.

From Friday night until Monday morning, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will close the 405 between the 10 and the 101 freeways so that workers may finish demolishing the Mulholland Drive bridge as part of the $1-billion project to add a 10-mile carpool lane through the Sepulveda Pass.

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Hot and getting hotter for Carmageddon weekend

Ventura weather
Clear skies and warming temperatures will prevail this weekend in the Southland as a 10-mile closure of the 405 Freeway, dubbed Carmageddon II, threatens to limit escape routes for would-be beachgoers.

With temperatures in the San Fernando Valley expected to approach 100 degrees, "the beach would be a good place to go," said Mike Wofford, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. "But how are people going to get there?"

If they manage, they'll find much more moderate conditions, with temperatures close to 80 degrees.

Hot, dry conditions are typical in late September and October, Wofford said. By Sunday and, particularly Monday, "we'll be close to breaking temperature records."

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