A 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway is scheduled for full closure Sept. 29-30 while construction crews work to demolish a portion of the Mulholland Bridge, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials announced on Thursday.
Dubbed "Carmageddon II," the work is the second phase of demolition and reconstruction of the bridge. The northern portion of the bridge will be demolished to facilitate the widening of the freeway as part of the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, according to Metro.
Though the last summer, a larger workload this year makes the early finish less likely.
"We were able to demolish one set of bridge columns during the last 405 closure," said Dave Sotero, Metro spokesperson. "This time we have two sets of bridge columns to demolish in the same time period, so we're going to be very busy and unlikely to end early."
The 405 is the busiest and most congested freeway in the nation, said Sotero, and it's located between two other of the nation's busiest freeways — the 10 and the 101.
"These are the triple threat[s] of freeway congestion at this particular location," said Sotero. "The Sepulveda Pass is obviously a canyon and so it's very difficult to maneuver outside of the canyon with any effective alternate routes because the alternate routes are local roads over the canyon passes and they're not adequate to accomodate diverted 405 traffic. And there is besides the 405."
Sepulveda Boulevard will be open for local access only and won't be recommended for diverted 405 traffic, according to Metro.
Last summer, during the first Carmageddon, streets remained clear through the weekend without any major incidents. Eyes were on Los Angeles, anticipating the opposite of what actually happened.
"During Carmageddon I, drivers proved the skeptics wrong,'' said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, also a member of the Metro board. "They heard our warnings and stayed off the roads, creating a traffic breather not seen since the free-flowing freeways of the 1984 Olympics. I have every confidence they'll rise to the occasion again."
Metro officials are concerned Angelenos will be more bold this year, expecting to cruise vacant streets all weekend.
"The big thing here is the public may become complacent because it was such a cakewalk last year that they may be tempted to get on the roads and continue on their regular driving patterns for that weekend," Sotero said. "That's really going to create the potential for creating the congestion we're hoping to avoid."
Despite the appeal of completely clear streets in the greater Los Angeles area, Metro is again asking motorists to avoid the area, said Sotero. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also chair of the Metro Board of Directors, is encouraging residents to enjoy a local weekend.
"Rather, let's join together to enjoy another car-light or car-free weekend with family and friends," Villaraigosa told City News Service. "Let's all help get this critical job done safely and without incident.''
"Let's make this another Carmageddon-Schmarmageddon experience for us all," Yaroslavsky said.
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This report was compiled with information from City News Service.