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Official warns residents not to test Carmageddon

Closure starts at midnight tonight

Posted: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Street sweepers take over after the demolition of two lanes of the Mulholland Bridge in Los Angeles on July 17, 2011.

 

 Last year’s anticipated vehicular apocalypse Carmageddon passed with light traffic rather than the end of the world as commuters know it, but officials are warning drivers against a relaxed attitude with this weekend’s Carmageddon II, which begins tonight.

“If residents don’t change their driving patterns, then it’s possible we may see a major backup,” said Patrick Chandler, spokesman for Caltrans.

Carmageddon II involves shutting down Interstate 405 between the 101 and 10 freeways so workers can reconstruct a bridge required by freeway widening. The stretch of freeway, used by an average of 278,000 vehicles a day, is set to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday. Caltrans wants two-thirds of those residents to stay off freeways this weekend.

The hype hasn’t been as strident as it was for last summer’s Carmageddon, but Chandler wasn’t about to de-emphasize the potential dire consequences of hopping on an on-ramp this weekend.

“If you get in a car, take water, medications and a cellphone because it really could be that drastic,” he said.

Santa Clarita city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz, however, noted last year’s anticlimactic events.

“It’s far enough away that typically it doesn’t affect us,” Ortiz said.

Taking no chances, Caltrans has posted roadway signs as far away as the Bay Area, San Diego and state borders, Chandler said.

Castaic resident Jeanette Yamamoto will take the weekend off from work in West Los Angeles to avoid a possible jam.

“My boss scheduled me off because of it,” Yamamoto said, “I’m avoiding the whole thing altogether.”

The busy veterinary clinic where she works will miss two doctors because of Carmageddon II precautions this weekend.

“Traffic was extremely light last year because everyone was avoiding the roads. We definitely didn’t want to take a chance this year,” Yamamoto said.

Santa Clarita Valley residents who want to stay close will find plenty of local activities Saturday.

- The Santa Clarita Jazz & Blues Festival on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. will please listeners away from their car radios at the Valencia Country Club on Tourney Road.

- Residents can celebrate the opening of the new Newhall Library opening on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

- Family Promise of Santa Clarita’s annual homeless-awareness event, Box City, will be held at Bridgeport Park in Valencia overnight from 4 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.

- Kids can try alternate forms of transportation on the free train ride that kicks off Lombardi Ranch’s month of fall events in Saugus on Sunday.

Drivers who can’t avoid the highways this weekend can use the Caltrans online map for live traffic information at quickmap.dot.ca.gov.

 

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