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Traffic smooth around 405 closure in OC

Posted: August 18, 2013 9:36 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2013 9:36 a.m.
 

SEAL BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Traffic is moving smoothly as motorists navigate around a closed section of one of Southern California's busiest freeways.

The four-mile strip of Interstate 405 in Orange County is scheduled to be off-limits while workers tear down a 700-foot long bridge.

As many as 300,000 vehicles pass through the stretch of freeway on a typical weekend day.

Officials say no problems were reported Sunday morning.

Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman Ted Nguyen says extensive publicity appears to have convinced drivers to stay away.

The freeway section near its junction with State Route 22 and Interstate 605 is expected to remain closed for most of the day.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Traffic was smooth after authorities shut one of the nation's busiest stretches of highway in Orange County for construction Saturday evening.

However, the big test comes Sunday when Interstate 405 near its junction with State Route 22 and Interstate 605 remains closed for most of the day until 5 p.m. as crews work to tear down an old connector bridge.

The demolition is part of a $277 million project to link carpool lanes between the freeways.

The 20 hour-long closure is the latest freeway shutdown in Southern California to stir fears of epic traffic jams, but those worries have so far not come to fruition.

The closure of a section of I-405 in Los Angeles in 2011, followed by a similar shutdown there last year, did not result in "Carmageddon." Motorists heeded months of warning to stay off the road and the weekend traffic was unusually light.

Transportation officials are hoping for a repeat by warning residents to not only steer clear of the freeways, but also avoid the detours.

They spent nearly a year to prepare for the shutdown. To get the word out, they distributed tens of thousands of fliers, illuminated freeway signs around the region with warnings and dubbed the closure the "Bridge Bash."

The local newspaper had a naming contest and the winner was the "Orange Jam."

Officials say the potential for serious backups is real: 300,000 vehicles pass through the stretch of freeway that will be disrupted by the bridge demolition on a typical weekend day.

The best detours available will send drivers on long side-street tours of cities such as Los Alamitos and Seal Beach.

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