Southern California drivers are gearing up for this weekend’s so-called “Carmageddon,” during which a 10-mile stretch of the congested 405 Freeway will be shut down in both directions in the heart of West Los Angeles.
Beginning around 10 p.m. Friday and continuing until 5 a.m. Monday, the freeway will be closed between Highway 101 in the San Fernando Valley and Interstate 10 on the Westside so crews can demolish part of the Mulholland Drive Bridge. The work is part of the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which is intended to ease traffic on one of the nation’s busiest freeways and bring its infrastructure up to new seismic standards.
Workers will be destroying half of the bridge on Sepulveda Pass and replacing it with a wider span that can accommodate a major carpool lane. Another freeway closure will be necessary to complete the project at a later date.
Authorities are advising motorists to avoid, if possible, streets in neighborhoods in the vicinity of the closed portion of the 405. They are also recommending that people use alternate freeways, such as the 5, 10, 15, 23, 101 and 710.
The 405, also known as the San Diego Freeway, has long been notorious for its heavy traffic snarls. The artery serves as the main connection between the 101 and the 10, and it is one of the primary routes to busy Los Angeles International Airport as well as a gateway to the San Fernando Valley.
Officials say nearly 300,000 cars a day pass through the Sepulveda Pass segment of the 405, and as many as 500,000 drivers use it on any given summer weekend.
Travelers trying to get to San Diego from Santa Barbara or Ventura, or vice versa, are being encouraged to use Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner as an alternative.
However, the Thruway RT 1c Amtrak bus that usually provides service from Bakersfield to Torrance will be affected, according to Sybil Evans of Amtrak. Stops at Torrance, Westchester, El Segundo and Westwood will be suspended during the closure.
Local transportation services in Santa Barbara are already preparing to avoid the expected heavy traffic as motorists swarm alternate roadways. Santa Barbara’s Limousine Link has advised its customers not to travel unless they absolutely must. Instead of the typical two hours it takes to drive clients to LAX, Limousine Link is telling customers they should expect the drive to take up to six hours as a result of extended traffic delays.
Although FedEx mainly ships packages by air, a Santa Barbara store employee said the 53-hour closure may give the company’s ground routes some trouble.
Santa Barbara Airbus CEO Eric Onnen says his company plans to continuously monitor Metrolink’s traffic information this weekend so its buses can change routes when necessary. Santa Barbara Airbus makes eight trips to Los Angeles and eight more trips back to Santa Barbara each day. Since traffic will be nearly impossible to avoid, Onnen says the company is encouraging riders to allow extra travel time to get to their destinations.
Santa Barbara and Goleta post offices do not expect the closure to affect mail deliveries in any way, as the cities’ mail is delivered from Santa Clarita, about 35 miles north of Los Angeles and reachable via Highway 126 through Ventura County.
The freeway closure has also forced the Getty Center to close for the weekend, since its location about midway along the route will be largely inaccessible.
(Metro Los Angeles video)