405 Freeway Reopens, Ending 'Carmageddon'

The city of Los Angeles will save $400,000 and the project contractors will share a bonus of $300,000 for finishing construction on the Mulholland Bridge ahead of schedule.

People driving under the Mulholland Bridge at noon Sunday honked their car horns to celebrate the 405 Freeway reopening and the end of "Carmageddon." The freeway opened 17 hours ahead of schedule.

“Carmageddon, shmarmageddon,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who popularized the apocalyptic-sounding nickname, said at a news conference announcing the reopening.

The entire freeway is scheduled to reopen by 3 p.m. The main lines will be opened first, followed by connectors and off-ramps. On-ramps will be last.

The city of Los Angeles will save $400,000 and the project contractors, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. and Penhall Co., will share a bonus of $300,000 for avoiding another 12-hour shift.

A visibly pleased Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa credited a strong construction team for the rapid turnaround.

He also thanked Angelenos for making an effort to stay off the road in the "car capital of America."

“Not enough is said about the people of Los Angeles, when they come together, when they decide we all have to work together to make something,” Villaraigosa said.

Car traffic was very light all weekend, with ridership on bus and subway lines doubling in some places, said Aram Sahakian, an engineer with the Department of Transportation and a member of the emergency response team.

A procession led by the Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Fire Department officially capped off what Yaroslavsky called an "anticlimactic" weekend. Dire warnings of the closure have sounded for months, with an acceleration in press coverage leading up to the event.

"[The news coverage] overshadowed our radio communication at times with the helicopters, but we dealt with it," said Penhall construction worker Drew Erickson. "Our crews worked safely and they got done what they needed to get done."

This is only the beginning of the freeway-widening project, which will be implemented over the next two years. The $1 billion project will add a northbound carpool lane to help ease congestion on the 405. Delays will be a regular part of driving in that time, said Deputy LAPD Chief Kirk Albanese.

But the end goal, officials say, is the greater good.

"The sacrifices now will have dividends in the future," Villaraigosa said, adding that 18,000 jobs are being created as a result of the project.

The impact of the weekend’s closure on local business is yet to be determined. Angelenos were encouraged to shop local, but it is likely that some businesses and venues took hits economically with fewer people making trips.

The Coliseum, for example, reportedly had a lower turnout than expected for the soccer match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Madrid on Saturday night. 

In the Pacific Palisades, residents said the closure was actually an enjoyable experience.

"I would prefer to keep the freeway closed as long as possible because I'm enjoying the quiet," said Michele Baron.

In other areas closer to the freeway, however, residents complained of the constant drone of news helicopters capturing footage of the closure.

The city will have to do this again in 11 months when it demolishes the other side of the Mulholland Bridge.

john printy July 18, 2011 at 09:20 PM
I think its really great that these workers got the Job done on time, I wanna give the men of the contruction, company that were in charge of the demolition a two thumbs up, great Job Men, Job well done getting the 405, open on time before monday rush hour, again Job well done, keep up the good work......
Mark Elliot July 23, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Zev's got it backwards: 'Carmageddon' preceded and followed the actual weekend event just as it does nearly every week of the year. Motorists queue by the hundreds to get on/off the 405 or merely just make their way under it. Indeed we live with 'carmageddon' most every weekday. 'Survive the 405' and the new neologism 'autopocalypse' is the rule, not the exception. Most every weekday I leave THAT 'carmageddon' behind by taking my two wheels 'cross town. On a bike I can beat the average motorists pm Santa Monica to Beverly Hills commute by half. Zev talked up 'carmageddon' at the recent Westside Cities Council of Governments board meeting too. He remarked how he could hear the birds sing, and the kids play, and generally celebrated his relief from the "constant drone" of cars. But our Supervisor had nothing to add to the board's discussion about making Westside streets bike-friendly. That would get people out of cars and tamp down that fatiguing drone. We were there to make the case, though, and here's our recap: http://bit.ly/rgfLXi
Irene Gibson July 23, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Unfortunately BIKE people are faced with the same foe as the RED CAR (an electric rail line that once reached every corner of LA County).....the Automobile Industry is formidable and unreasonable. With our daily carmageddon, it still makes and sells new cars to us at enormous rates.....and WE allow it.....in fact, participate!!!!! Pollution aside, of course.
CB White July 27, 2011 at 05:06 AM
It sounds like everyone who wrote a reply either forgot, or was not living here in 1987/1988 when road construction was being done on Sepulveda. The grid-lock experienced- up to 10 hours on surface streets- to go over the hill. I remember because I was attending a school on Mulholland one Sunday morning. My father drove me, and we were stuck in traffic for quite a while, going to and from. I'm just wondering if anyone else remembered this? That was really the carmageddon of the century. The biggest impact was that I could not visit my grandparents that week as they lived over the hill in Culver City.
Irene Gibson July 27, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Probably the memory was exactly what prompted everyone to be concerned about THIS enterprise.......thus the meticulous information/prevention tactics.


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