Brentwood, Westwood, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Bel Air, West L.A. and other Westside and Valley communities have endured the brunt of the 405 Freeway construction and, without any further setbacks, should experience its final full year of work.
Residents gathered at the Westwood Recreation Center Thursday, Feb. 28 to hear the latest project updates and projected 2013 milestones, including the freeway's 2.5-mile HOV lane between the I-10 and Wilshire Boulevard and guarantee that Sepulveda Boulevard should become fully functional during peak traffic hours.
Community Relations Manager Kasey Shuda told roughly 40 residents that the project is two-thirds complete, with 100 percent of work on utilities, the Wilshire Boulevard ramps and the Mulholland, Skirball and Sunset Boulevard bridges to be completed this year. Ninety percent of on and off-ramps affected by the project should be completed, as well as 90 percent of underpasses and structures. Eighty-three percent of retaining and soundwalls are anticipated for completion in 2013.
Metro estimates the cost of the $1 billion project to increase primarily due to previously unknown and complex, yet required, utility relocation work. The project's middle section between Montana Avenue and Sunset Boulevard has proven to be the greatest challenge. Street congestion has limited the times available to complete that work. The project has had to identify, relocate or have the utility owner relocate numerous major utilities, some of which were not adequately included in documents at the start of construction.
Also, Metro reports that local drainage and contractor retaining wall issues impacted the project, and a 12-foot by 12-foot county culvert box not shown on preliminary engineering plans required extensive mitigation. Metro's need to obtain right-of-ways with several property owners along the 405, including the federal General Services Administration (which oversees the VA hospital) and Getty Center have taken considerably longer than anticipated to acquire.
At the meeting, one resident in the Bel Air Crest neighborhood questioned what will happen to the construction yards occupied by Kiewit once the project is finished, specifically talking about one near her neighborhood west of the Mulholland Bridge. Shuda said Caltrans owns that particular lot, which Kiewit rented, and may remain a construction yard after the project's completion.
More than 250 tentative ramp closure days remain for the Wilshire segment of the project, with five more ramps still needed for reconstruction in the eight-ramp interchange. Starting this Friday, March 8, the southbound 405 Freeway offramp to westbound Wilshire Boulevard is closured for 14 days.
The westbound Wilshire on-ramp to the northbound 405 and the northbound 405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Boulevard have been completed. Nearly 80 percent completed in surrounding Wilshire to I-405 improvements is the I-10 connector at Exposition Boulevard, Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Ohio Avenue, the Wilshire Boulevard undercrossing and Constitution Avenue
The next major Wilshire closures are 21 days this summer for the northbound 405 off-ramp to eastbound Wilshire and 90 days this fall for the eastbound Wilshire on-ramp to the northbound 405.
According to Metro, work crews are aiming to complete more than 26,000 feet of combined retaining and sound walls for the Wilshire segment.
The anticipated 55-hour closure that began March 1 for contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West to pave a 2.4 mile stretch of the 405 between Montana Avenue and Getty Center Drive to accomodate the new HOV lane was completed 29 hours early.
Sepulveda Way is anticipated to re-open on Monday, March 11 and Sepulveda Boulevard will be shifted east, according to Metro. For eighth months, the Church Lane bridge will be widened once Sepulveda Way is re-opened, prompting closures and detours.
The Sunset Boulevard on- and off-ramps will be reconstructed for greater capacity, with the on-ramps finished during the summer and the off-ramps finished in late fall.
Shuda said there were a lot of politics involved in the landscaping plan along the Sunset segment, since land ownership in that area warrants collaboration between the city, Caltrans and elected officials. Lateral walls from Montana Avenue and Homedale Street and Homedale Street to Bronwood Alley will have sidewalks and vegetation planted.
Shuda added they are planning to have art displayed on a portion of walls.
Mulholland and Skirball segments
Ron Maceas, Metro spokesperson for the Mulholland segment of 405 work, said they've been getting a lot of work done in the Sherman Oaks area of the freeway. He said retaining and sound wall work is three to four weeks away from completion. The Sepulveda Boulevard overpass and bridge widening is ongoing.
The Bel Air Crest underpass is nearing completion, and drainage work on Mulholland Drive has prompted ongoing nightly closures. Abutment, column and falsework construction is ongoing on the nortern half of Mulholland Bridge and similarly with the southern half the Skirball Bridge. The northbound Skirball on-ramp widening continues.
The new southbound Skirball on-ramp opened on Feb. 4.
For more information on the project, visit www.metro.net/I-405.