UPDATED at 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Metro officials say the third northbound lane of the San Diego (405) Freeway is now open in the Sepulveda Pass area between Montana and the Getty Center exit where contractors are ahead of schedule with road work.
No overnight closures will be needed and the freeway will be wide open after 5 a.m. Sunday, according to spokesman Dave Sotero.
UPDATED at 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Metro officials said quick work by its crews means the San Diego (405) Freeway will get a third open lane Saturday night, and should be wide open as of sunrise Sunday.
The third lane northbound lane should be open by 9 p.m. Saturday, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero told City News Service.
"Barring a major equipment failure, we expect to be out of the way before 5 a.m. Sunday,'' he said.
The good news came as "Son Of Carmageddon'' put the 405 north on a 60 percent diet, causing a miles-long backup of inching traffic, and several fenderbenders in the backup. Surface stereet traffic was also jammed in much of the Westside.
Starting at 6 a.m. and lasting all day, five lanes of traffic were funneled down to two on the northbound freeway next to the Getty Center, and least three crashes in the stalled northbound traffic were reported by midmorning.
The 405 north was crawling at 10 miles an hour as far back as Venice Boulevard, and there was also stopped traffic on ramps to the 405 from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway.
To complicate matters, Caltrans guardrail repair work on the parallel Topanga Canyon Boulevard created a two-mile backup on that twisting canyon alternative.
"It's a safety issue and we need to repair that guardrail in that canyon,'' Caltrans spokeswoman Lauren Wonder told City News Service. The guardrail crew was to be out of Topanga by 1 p.m.
The freeway snarl developed when three of the five northbound lanes were closed, as lanes are to be shifted to the west in part of the narrow canyon there. Workers are spending the entire weekend moving the center median and repaving and restriping the freeway itself.
Metro officials, who are handling the $1 billion-plus reconstruction process, had warned for weeks that 55 hours of full and partial closures of the northbound freeway in the Sepulveda Pass would snarl things.
All five lanes on the new 405 alignment were not supposed to be available for traffic until no later than 5 a.m. Monday. But today's quick work meant the crucial connection from West L.A. to the San Fernando Valley would reopen to fulluse a full 24 hours early, Sotero told CNS.
"The HOV lane now under construction will ultimately extend 10 miles between the I-10 and U.S. 101 and complete the last remaining gap in the I-405 HOV lane network,'' Sotero said.
The project includes realigning and rebuilding dozens of on- and off-ramps, installing a northbound carpool lane, and widening and repairing the 50-plus-year-old freeway.
Most of the 10 miles of widened freeway will be open to traffic by mid-summer, but the final segment won't be open until a year later, in mid-2014, Metro officials said last month. Problems removing hillsides and the discovery of hidden utility lines and runoff pipes have caused delays near Sunset Boulevard, officials said.