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Carmageddon contractor may receive incentive pay

July 17, 2011 | 10:24 am

Click here for more photos Contractors will probably receive incentive payments for finishing the "Carmageddon" demolition on the 405 Freeway ahead of schedule Sunday, transportation officials said.

But officials said the cost savings to Metro and Caltrans from finishing ahead of the Monday morning deadline will far outweigh the incentive rewards to the lead contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.

Had the freeway project not been finished by 5 a.m. Monday, the contractor faced potential penalty payments of $6,000 for every 10 minutes it was late.

PHOTOS: 'Carmageddon' closes the 405 Freeway

The weekend demolition of half of the Mulholland Drive bridge spanning the 405 cost an estimated $3 million, according to Mike Barbour, project director of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project. The overall project, which includes replacing the bridge, building a northbound carpool lane, ramp improvments and landscaping, costs about $1 billion.

“We worked with the contractor to build in some incentives to get it done early,” Barbour said.

He would not say how much the incentives will be, but he said it “isn’t a large number.”

“By us opening early, that far outweighs any money spent” on incentives, he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Metro Chief Executive Art Leahy were expected to release more details about project costs and incentive payments when they appeared near the demolition site at 10:30 a.m.

Barbour said part of the reason the demolition was ahead of schedule Sunday morning was that managers had incorporated a time cushion into their plans in case problems arose, such as bad weather, traffic or work conditions. None of those problems surfaced, he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate. A lot of things did not go wrong,” Barbour said. “It went very smoothly.”

Barbour and other transportation officials said they were particularly encouraged that Angelenos heeded public officials’ call to stay off the freeways during the project, making it easier for demolition to proceed as planned. Barbour said that bodes well for the next planned 405 Freeway closure in 11 months, when crews hope to demolish the other half of the Mulholland Drive bridge.

“We appreciate the fact that L.A. residents stayed off the freeways. They listened,” he said. “It will go well the next time if we can keep that same focus.”

As of Sunday morning, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Alicia Mathis said there were 50 responses by the fire department in and around the closure area, about comparable to normal.

Mathis said most response times were within the department's normal range, often beating average response times.

Jim Featherstone, general manager of the city's Emergency Management Department, said that immediately after the reopening of the 405, officials would being working to "retool" their message about getting motorists to avoid the freeway so that the next closure in about 11 months goes just as smoothly.

"Crisis information is driven by the situation. It's real important to look at how the messaging goes out next time," Featherstone said.


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Carmageddon: 2 cyclists arrested for riding on closed 405

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Crews sweep and inspect the 405 Freeway after major demolition finished on the Mulholland Drive bridge early Sunday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times