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Carmageddon: Drivers relish being back on 405. 'This is L.A.'

July 17, 2011 |  2:27 pm

Click here for more photos. It’s never happened before, and probably won’t happen again, but Sunday I made it from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley without touching my brake pedal once.

Six minutes was all it took from the 405 Freeway’s northbound Olympic Boulevard entrance ramp up to Sherman Oaks, quicker than it can sometimes take in Los Angeles just to merge from one freeway to the next.

Few of the commuters waiting to be among the first to get on the newly reopened 405 on Sunday afternoon were buying into the idea the city was headed away from its storied car culture, post-Carmageddon.

“We ain't going back to no horse and buggy, man” said one LAPD motorcycle officer manning a northbound closure. “This is L.A.”

PHOTOS: Carmageddon closes the 405 Freeway

But for those who were among the first to repopulate the 405, this reporter included, it sure felt like it. No brake lights, no lane closures, no accidents to rubberneck, just a clear path for the smattering there to go 65, or faster if they dared. (For Seinfeld fans, the scene was reminiscent of the episode when Cosmo Kramer adopts a highway stretch just to repaint extra-wide “luxury” lanes.)

One commuter in a Hyundai coupe seemed to be relishing his brief roadway freedom, gliding across all four lanes from the center divider to the exit lane, and back again.

“405 FREEWAY OPEN THANK YOU LOS ANGELES,” flashed a Caltrans sign on the shoulder.

Another driver waiting for the northbound Olympic ramp to reopen said she was late to an engagement in the Valley, and wasn’t going to miss the chance to get a clear path there.

“This is going to feel good,” she shouted through her car window before driving on.

The only slowdown came as drivers passed through a small cloud of white dust, all that was left Sunday afternoon of the demolished lanes of the Mulholland Drive bridge.


Carmageddon ends: 405 Freeway reopens

Why drivers stayed off the roads during Carmageddon

Carmageddon: JetBlue passengers, race participants describe experience

-- Robert Faturechi on the 405 Freeway

Photo: Consctuction officials and members of the media get a view of the first motorists to travel south on the 405 Freeway under the Mulholland Drive bridge after half of it was demolished. Credit: Allen J. Schaben /Los Angeles Times