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Carmageddon II: 405 Freeway Reopens

The entire freeway reopened around 11:30 p.m. The northbound side opened to a slow-moving motorcade at 9:15 p.m.

The 405 Freeway completely reopened at about 11:30 p.m.—five and a half hours ahead of schedule—officially ending Carmageddon II in time for the morning commute.

Escorted by the California Highway Patrol, a slow-moving "little parade" of contractors and Caltrans vehicles was the first onto the northbound side of the freeway at 9:15 p.m. and was trailed by eager drivers, said Kasey Shuda, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"All the agencies are really excited that our coordinated efforts paid off and that Los Angeles residents stayed local in their communities," she said.

Starting at the I-10 connector then moving north to the 101 freeway, the northbound lanes and off-ramps reopened first at 8:45 p.m. The on-ramps opened afterward. The same process was repeated on the south side of the freeway, according to Metro.

The 405 Freeway closure between Friday night and Sunday evening included demolishing the northern half of the Mulholland bridge and erecting a new half-bridge and mating it to the half that was rebuilt last year during Carmageddon I.

The work—which involved tearing down 38,000 pounds of iron and steel and removing more than 360,000 pounds of metal jackets encasing the bridge's four support columns—was the linchpin in the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project to rebuild the 50-year-old bridge between the 10 and 101 freeways. The project also includes a carpool lane between the two freeways. The project is expected to reach substantial completion by late 2013.

Demolition of the bridge was complete by 5 p.m. Sunday, when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa convened a news conference to sum up the day's work. At that time, there was still clean-up work to be done, but he dubbed the project a "success" and called motorists who stayed off the freeway "the real stars."

That he changed the press briefing from its originally scheduled time of 10 p.m. excited Angelenos who hoped he might announce an early reopening of the freeway.

Word of the early reopening came later in the evening.  

"We're eight hours earlier than expected," said Lauren Wonder, a Caltrans spokeswoman. "This was very complicated work that was done very efficiently, so we were able to get the lanes open."

There was 30 percent more demolition work to be done this year than last year—when the freeway reopened 17 hours ahead of schedule—and there was no bonus for the contractor if the freeway opened early—just a penalty for opening late. 

If the freeway did not reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, the contractor Kiewit was to be fined heavy penalties—a $6,000 fine per lane for every 10 minutes past the deadline the lane is closed and a $60,000 per minute fine if all lanes stay closed past 53 hours, according to Dave Sotero, Metro spokesman.

Caltrans took advantage of the freeway's full closure to do maintenance chores, including repairing deteriorating asphalt next to the center medians, trimming trees and cleaning drains. This saved about $200,000 in taxpayer money, a Caltrans official said.

— City News Service and Patch Local Editor Jared Morgan and Associate Regional Editor Sara Fay contributed to this report.

Someone October 01, 2012 at 04:14 AM
"If the freeway did not reopen by 5 p.m., the contractor Kiewit was to be fined heavy penalties" Did you mean A.M.?
Sandra Oshiro (Editor) October 01, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Yes, that is a.m. Thank you.
Someone October 01, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Your welcome, glad to help
venice beach rider October 01, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Large contractor are ownee by same bank that control the government so when they get fined its like they are fining themselves. Think about it the same bank that finances keiwit most.likely also mortgage your house and make payment to when you buy a car. All those little banks are just barrowing money at prime rate from the guys who print it. Why do you think when you goto Hollywood and try to find those old shops that sold shirts etc all got replaced by target and walmart? Who can pay the high rent but the bank themselves? Its all a scam
Glenn E Grab October 01, 2012 at 03:38 PM
what?.....
venice beach rider October 01, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Banks own all big companies and also control government so when government fines a bank or bank owned company they are essentially fining themselves because the money just goes back to the same bank whos bank owned contractor paid. Get it? Think about it every penny you pay in taxes go right back to the bank to pay off national debt and a fine is nothing more then a tax
venice beach rider October 01, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The same place that america owes national debt to also finance these contractors that build roads like keiwit. So if keiwit goes out of business what happens? Bank takes it back and gets another ceo so keiwit doesnt own itself. Just like most people think they are homeowners until they miss a few payments.

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