View Mobile Site
zone code Advantage Code _
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Carmageddon returns to Los Angeles

Residents urged to stay near homes as 405 closes again

Posted: September 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

“Carmageddon II” — the sequel — is coming to one of the nation’s most crowded freeways, and authorities are hoping its subtitle won’t be “The Traffic Strikes Back.”

Transportation officials say what they would like to see during the last weekend of September is a rerun of last year’s two-day closure, when hundreds of thousands of motorists dodged doomsday predictions by staying away until the busy, 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 reopened. It was one of the lightest freeway traffic weekends anyone in Los Angeles could remember.

For some Santa Clarita Valley commuters, a return to Carmageddon is a return to hardship and aggravation.

Those in the film industry could find it difficult making all-important last-minute auditions.

Local actor Jeremy Johnson — who has appeared in TV show “Modern Family” and as a recurring character in TV show “Community” — said he hopes audition calls come before or after Carmageddon II — not during.

“I would be half inclined to decline it on that day,” Johnson said Sunday, referring to last-minute audition calls.

“I guess I would probably have to take the 5 to the 170 or 101 and then take surface streets since most of the calls are in Santa Monica or Culver City,” the Valencia resident said. “And that could take a couple of extra hours.”

Carl Palmer, of Valencia, who commutes to Los Angeles every day and who remembers the problems posed by Carmageddon I, said driving to a major California soccer game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, for example, would be difficult.

“You would have to go to the (Interstate) 5,” he said. “Either way, it’s a right pain in the ---.”

In Santa Monica, a new emergency operations center opened last month. Authorities say every major transit, law enforcement and emergency services agency in the area has been cooperating in making contingency plans.

In the meantime, just what should people do over the weekend when they will hopefully be too afraid to pull out of their driveways?

“Eat, Shop and Play Locally,” advises the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, reciting its official Carmageddon II slogan.

If thousands of people hadn’t stayed home on a mid-July weekend last year, authorities say they might have caused a traffic backup so massive it could have spread to connecting freeways, gridlocking the entire city highway system. The result, “Carmageddon,” would have been miles and miles of idling cars filled with thousands and thousands of angry people.

“The risk factors are exactly the same as they were last year, so nothing has changed in terms of the heartburn that traffic agency people are feeling right now,” says Dave Sotero, a spokesman for the transportation authority.

As they did for the first Carmageddon, officials have been posting flashing freeway signs for weeks warning people all over the state to stay away. On Labor Day weekend, people driving in and out of the desert resort of Palm Springs, 100 miles to the east, began seeing the signs.

“We wanted to get that image of what the stakes were by frankly alarming the public, getting the public’s attention, grabbing everybody by the lapels and saying, ‘This is a real project that is going to cause a real disaster if we aren’t prepared,’” says veteran Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is credited with publicly uttering the term Carmageddon.

The freeway is scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, just ahead of the morning rush hour.

Last year it opened 17 hours early, but Sotero says not to expect that again because there’s more work this time.

When all the work in the area is completed toward the end of next year, there will be a new, wider and seismically safer bridge crossing the freeway at the city’s scenic Mulholland Drive.

The 405 itself will also be wider, making room for a carpool lane through the Sepulveda Pass over the Santa Monica Mountains, where traffic notoriously clogs almost all the time.

If the freeway doesn’t reopen on time, that’s when Carmageddon would really kick in.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...