At a press conference just hours before the first on-ramps were shut down for work on the 405 Freeway, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city would benefit from the 53-hour closure.
The mayor also encouraged L.A. residents to stay close to their local neighborhoods and use other transportation options.
"We can either say we survived Carmageddon, or we can say we survived the Carmageddon hype," Villaraigosa said. "It doesn't have to be the end of the world. This is a unique opportunity for Angelenos to shop locally and to discover the world of public transportation."
Villaraigosa also emphasized that the shutdown was necessary for the region to reduce traffic congestion.
"Allow us to do everything we want to do under Measure R, to invest in reducing gridlock and clear air and all that stuff," he said.
The mayor was not as clear, however, on what the cost of the entire operation would be and how the dozen or so agencies involved would get their money.
"All of the agencies will be compensated where appropriate," he said. "These things happen in cities. We've said before we're a big city and we have a responsibility. The project budget will cover some of these costs. I can't tell you what they all are."
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky chose to warn commuters once again to stay off the roads.
"Don't wait until the last off-ramp before the closure to try to get off the freeway," Yaroslavsky said. "Those off-ramps ... are going to be some of the most intense, the most congested off-ramps in Los Angeles history."
At the command center, information officers set up live streaming of freeway maps. By 6 p.m., the 405 from the Westside to the Valley was most flowing at posted speeds and most other freeways were not congested.