Metro hosted a live forum Friday on their website for commuters to interact with Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky about the impending closure the 405 Freeway, also known as Carmageddon II.
Here are some of the highlights in a question and answer format, ranging from travel plans, to traffic flow, to helicopter noise, to technical work about the demolition and construction of the Mulholland Bridge and even a concern about wildfire danger during the closure.
To read a full transcript of the live chat, click here.
Q: I will be in Manhattan Beach on 9/28 until after midnight and live in Westwood…..how should I get home? David Vogel
A: Hi David! You will be able to take northbound 405 to National Blvd. At National you will be detoured onto northbound Sepulveda. You will be able to take Sepulveda and all local streets up north to Westwood. Sepulveda will remain open through the Sepulveda Pass during the entire weekend.
Q: Is the contractor getting an incentive to finish work early?
A: No. They have a disincentive for finishing late. It's $6,000 for every lane of freeway, every 10 minutes. So if the entire freeway is closed for ten minutes it's $60,000 penalty.
Q: Some friends are planning to drive to San Diego for the weekend of Carmageddon. Is this a mistake? Will they be stuck in traffic Sunday night? Please tell people what they should expect if they head south for the weekend. Thank you!
A: I do not know your starting point, but if you are leaving the Los Angeles area headed south I suggest using an alternative freeway than the 405. Sepulveda Blvd will be open from the Valley to the Westside so drivers will be able to access southbound 405 after the Getty Center entrance.
Q: Will the work finish early like last time?
A: Well, there's 30 percent more work to be done in the same 53-hour period. Caltrans is also doing maintenance work at the same time, although there is a little bit of contingency time inserted into the schedule. Ending early is not likely.
Q: Zev, My question pertains to the southbound off-ramp at Sunset. I travel southbound every morning and the line to exit stretches forever. Are there any plans to alleviate this congestion? Mel Moss
A: Yes, Mel! On Monday morning, Sept 24, we will be opening the newly completed Sunset Bridge. Southbound Church lane will now have a double right hand turn lane to move traffic from Church onto Sunset quickly. We believe this will improve traffic flow coming from the freeway.
Q: Given that the compaarative Northbound vs Southbound morning traffic flows on I-405 on a typical weekday is much much heavier Southbound, if both sides of the freeway cannot be re-opened on schedule, will priority be given to re-opening Southbound I-405, possibly with a strategy that opens Northbound I-405 as far as Getty Center Drive and converts Sepulveda to one-way Northbound through the Tunnel. Larry Scholnick
A: Hi Larry, thank you for your question. The Unified Command, including Caltrans, Metro, DOT, LAFD, LAPD and CHP, will be on hand all weekend to make on-site decisions if necessary. We are confident that the entire freeway will open at 6am on Monday morning, October 1.
Q: What if there's another brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass on Carmageddon weekend? How prepared are you for a natural disaster like that?
A: LA Fire and LAPD have contingency plans. They're going to deploy resources on both sides of the closure to ensure fast response times.
Q: I live directly in the middle of the freeway closure and the only access is from Sepulveda Blvd at Bel Air Crest Rd. Will there be traffic control to allow me to exit my community and then return during the freeway closure? Lester J. Schwartz
A: Hi Lester, thank you for writing in today. Yes, Traffic Control Officers will be placed all along Sepulveda throughout the closure limits. They will be helping to keep traffic moving and allow residents to get to and from their homes. Strike teams will also be placed throughout the area to make quick trips to any area that needs help.
Q: Is there going to be a Carmageddon III?
A: No, Mulholland bridge is being demolished and built in two halves. Last year we demolished the south side and this year we will demolish the north side. In a year we will have a new Mulholland bridge.
Q: What precautions are put in place by Metro to make sure the bridge columns fall in the right direction during demolition? What sort of impact, if any, could there be if the columns fall in the wrong direction after the initial demolition? Matt Sanderson Editor Brentwood Patch
A: Hello Patch! The demolition has been engineered to ensure that the columns will fall in the safe direction towards the embankment, just as we did last summer. The demolition contractor has been doing this for a long time and is an expert in this field. We have every confidence that this will be a nonevent.
Q: Once the project is over, is there a possibility that something useful beyond a car pool lane will be done with the extra space? What about a train or a busway or something that will take hundreds of cars OFF the freeway and save us from that daily crunch over the hill and back down again?
A: Measure R, the half cent transit sales tax approved by the voters in 2008, earmarks $1 billion for a transit line through the Sepulveda Pass between West LA and the SF Valley. If the voters approve Measure J this November, which would extend Measure R by 30 years, the construction of that line would be accelerated by more than a decade.
Q: Last year some people had dinner on the freeway. Will that be ok this year?
A: Absolutely not! The CHP Incident Commander has indicated that anyone caught on the freeway with a YouTube moment will be arrested. The CHP has increased their deployment this year to ensure that the freeway remains clear. This is necessary for safety and emergency responders and also because the contractor will be doing additional maintenance work throughout the 10 mile closure.
Q: Helicopters kept me awake during last closure. How can you make sure they don't fly over all weekend long?
A: We can't. Some of the helicopters were press and some were life saving agencies, such as police and fire. These are necessary for people to do their jobs. Metro does not control, nor does it have jurisdiction over air space. Congressnman Howard Berman and I have appealed to news media to be ]considerate of neighbors by flying at higher altitudes.
Q: Will Metrolink/Metro Rail/Amtrak/Metro Bus be running any extra service on Carmageddon weekend?
A: Yes, Metrolink will be adding service next weekend and Metro has additional transit options now that the Expo line is open and the Orange Line has been extended to Chatsworth. We also encourage you to visit local destinations around these and many other transit options and enjoy substantial discounts Carmageddon weekend. Visit the Metro website www.metro.net and click on "Destination Discounts."
Q: Mr. Yaroslavsky, the upcoming work has been described as a sustaintially more significant undertaking. What lessons were learned/best practices during last year's 'Carmageddon' that can you apply this year to get done on time?
A: Last year we did not have any problems with equipment or construction. Also, the cooperation of Los Angeles residents by staying off the roads allowed the contractor and the Unified Command to focus on the demolition. The contractor has a very well scripted plan for all 53 hours of demolition work as well as a contingency plan.