Traffic jam
The already notorious Los Angeles traffic is expected to get worse this weekend during "Carmageddon," when a section of the 405 freeway closes. Photo Credit: Daniel R. Blume/Flickr/CC-BY-SA

The city of Los Angeles has been bracing itself for weeks to enter what has been dubbed “Carmageddon.” A section of the city’s busy freeway system will close temporarily. A stretch of the 405 freeway will be closed for the weekend and the rerouted traffic is expected to clog the city until Monday.

Officials tell Los Angelinos to stay at home or leave

The city of Los Angeles is notorious for having some of the most congested and difficult traffic to navigate in the world, and a construction project will make getting through the highway system in the city infinitely worse. A piece of the I-405 freeway has to be closed beginning in the late evening Friday, July 15, and it will open sometime before the morning of Monday, July 18. A 10-mile stretch, according to the Los Angeles Times, is being closed in order for a portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge to be demolished. However, that means the traffic normally driving on the 405, which is up to 375,000 cars per day according to the Christian Science Monitor, will have to go somewhere else. Officials are urging people to stay put if possible.

Construction to last a weekend

The event has come to be called “Carmageddon,” and various coping strategies are being suggested. Taking side roads is not thought to be a viable strategy, as the route will be longer and even more clogged than normal. If work goes well, the repairs to the Mulholland bridge could be completed early, but construction crews are going to have to remove 4,000 tons of concrete from the demolition of one end of the bridge. The project is slated to take 53 hours, give or take a few depending on circumstances. The demolition project is part of a highway improvement project, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The Mulholland Bridge area creates a traffic bottleneck, and the aim is to widen it to improve traffic flow on the 405. The same area is going to be closed again next year, when the bridge is rebuilt over another weekend.

Traffic nightmare could be avoided

Living in Southern California means getting used to traffic jams, and this is not the first time that the 405 has been closed. City officials are expecting the actual traffic during the closure to be lighter than normal, as similar phenomena have been observed in the past. During the 1984 Olympics, city officials warned of traffic jams from San Diego to Canada that never materialized, and similar results were observed during other events such as Los Angeles Laker victory parades. However, in the meantime there are “Carmageddon survival guides” people can stick to in order to cure boredom or figure out how best to get around if they need to. There are sites such as beatcarmageddon.com, and L.A. City Council member Zev Yaroslavsky has posted a list of 53 activities to keep a person occupied over the weekend.

Sources

Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/07/carmageddon-405-freeway-could-reopen-early-if-work-goes-smoothly.html

Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0715/Hunker-down-or-flee-Los-Angelenos-gird-for-carmageddon-on-I-405

Seattle Post Intelligencer: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/LA-readies-for-Carmageddon-weekend-1467428.php#page-1

Beat Carmageddon: http://beatcarmageddon.com/

Zev Yaroslavsky’s 53 things to do during Carmageddon: http://zev.lacounty.gov/news/transportation/top-story-transportation/53-ways-to-survive-without-the-405

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