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'Carmageddon': Too early to declare traffic victory

July 16, 2011 |  4:49 am

Click through for larger graphic. Several hours into 'Carmageddon,' none of the traffic nightmares have materialized as officials closed the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.

But the real test will come Saturday afternoon, when weekend traffic reaches its peak and drivers will be looking for an alternative to the 405. Transportation officials said some L.A. freeways get jammed on a normal Saturday, so the 405 closure could worsen the congestion unless a significant number of drivers decide to stay home or take alternative routes.

Officials have said they are particularly concerned about these hot spots:

110 FREEWAY:  With the 405 closed, the 110 will be the next most logical north-south route. It is often jammed Saturdays near downtown. On Saturday night as many as 100,000 people are expected to attend a soccer match between Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy at the L.A. Coliseum, next to the freeway.

405 FREEWAY SOUTH: Mike Barbour, Metro's director for the I-405 Sepulveda Pass widening project, said traffic could be bad south of the closure. "The worst case is it could be backing up to the 110," Barbour said. "We’re talking a significant 20 miles or so. it really depends on if people are staying away or not."

CANYON ROADS: The focus is on the mostly two-lane, north-south canyon roads connecting the San Fernando Valley and western Los Angeles County. Those roads, which traverse affluent neighborhoods such as Bel-Air, can bog down in normal weekend traffic.

They include Sepulveda Boulevard, Beverly Glen Boulevard, Benedict Canyon Drive, Coldwater Canyon Drive, Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard. Despite extensive public warnings to stay away from the area, representatives of some canyon neighborhood groups are dreading a hillside traffic nightmare -- or worse.

COASTAL ROUTES: Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is a tourist and beachgoer magnet on almost any summer weekend. Officials fear that drivers who might angle around the closure to the west -- particularly those traveling to or from Ventura and the Central Coast -- could overload the scenic highway.

Carmageddon: Full coverage of the 405 Freeway closure

Although Topanga Canyon Boulevard has been designated an alternative route, officials are urging people to avoid that narrow, winding mountain pass, which links Pacific Coast Highway to the Ventura Freeway in the western San Fernando Valley.

OTHER FREEWAYS:  Santa Monica officials are preparing for a potential onslaught of detouring motorists, in addition to the usual throng of summer visitors. Backups are likely near Interstate 10. Officials said they see potential traffic problems as far east as the 210 Freeway in Pasadena, which is already often jammed on weekends.


Photos: The 405 Freeway shuts down

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Taiwanese animators poke fun at L.A.'s Carmageddon

--Shelby Grad