In what may go down as a midsummer weekend's nightmare, one of the three freeways connecting the two halves of Los Angeles will be closed for an entire weekend — 53 hours — in mid-July, it was announced today.
The entire San Diego (405) Freeway will be shut down between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside beginning just after midnight on a Friday night-Saturday morning, the night starting July 15. It will not reopen until 5 a.m. the following Monday, July 18, officials said.
A half million cars, trucks and buses will have to be detoured or convinced not to traverse the mountains separating L.A. and “The Valley.” Builders plan a news conference on May 23 to kick off an advertising and public relations campaign to get the word out, county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wrote on his Web site.
“This is manageable as long as the public cooperates,'” said Metro spokesman Marc Littman in Yaroslavsky's release. “They've got a lot of summer plans and we don't want them surprised.'”
One Metro official likened the information effort to what happened leading up to the 1984 Summer Olympics, when so many L.A. residents left town or abandoned regular traffic habits that the city was virtually traffic-free during the summer games.
Art Leahy, chief executive of the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told area politicians of the plans in an email Thursday, and Yaroslavsky posted news of the closure late Friday. Metro is building the project in cooperation with Caltrans.
While some 405 lane closures will begin before midnight on the night of Friday, July 15, all lanes of the freeway will be closed just after midnight that Saturday morning, July 16. The closures will end at 5 a.m. Monday, July 18.
The 405 has already been blocked off for eight overnight hours at a time to allow other bridge work, with Caltrans diverting all southbound traffic onto the 101 in Sherman Oaks. Northbound ramps have been closed at the 10 interchange in West L.A.
During the looming weekend closure, half of the towering Mulholland Drive overpass at the top of the hill will be torn out. Mulholland traffic will use the other, remaining half of the overpass until a replacement structure is finished, and another weekend-long demolition closure is imposed next summer.
Metro is spending $1 billion on the 405 widening project between the Hollywood (101) and Santa Monica (405) freeways, an effort that will add northbound carpool lanes and radically remodel the 50-year-old freeway's bridges and ramps.
The landmark Mulholland bridge was finished in 1961 and replaced a chunk of ridgeline with a gigantic highway cut. Caltrans and Metro engineers have decided the monumental span is not wide enough for the 405.
The closure will apparently be the biggest planned freeway closure in California since the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was closed for installation of a detour structure two years ago. Radio commercials ran as far away as Los Angeles and Reno to warn motorists to stay away from the Bay Bridge that weekend.
“I think this is bigger than anything in memory,” Littman told Yaroslavsky's office.
The closure has already been dubbed “a midsummer night's nightmare” by Yaroslavksy's office. Possible detours include the Hollywood (101) or Golden State (5) freeways.
Twisting, two-lane detours through Topanga or Beverly Hills are expected to be overcrowded. There was no mention if Sepulveda Boulevard will be open as a detour through the pass, but that road has a pinch point at a tunnel with just one lane northbound lane and two southbound lanes.