Expect to hear a lot this week from civic and transportation officials about this weekend’s 53-hour shutdown of the 405 Freeway. On Monday, Caltrans hosted a session with reporters about its plans for “Carmageddon.”
"Most people spend their lives trying to avoid the 405," said Caltrans District Director Mike Miles. "This is the one weekend we need to tell you: you really need to avoid the 405!"
Miles says his agency will work with others – including law enforcement - to monitor and re-route traffic if necessary. They’ll be also be studying the 405 closing to help develop future emergency response plans.
"In case there was a natural disaster out there, say an earthquake or something, and Sepulveda pass was closed, how would we manage that?" Miles said.
Caltrans will use the cameras and sensors it’s embedded in pavement to clock traffic speeds and volume. The California Highway Patrol will deploy fixed-wing aircraft to help spot – and respond to - stalled vehicles and accidents.
Caltrans’ Miles also insisted that this was the wrong weekend for Angelenos to demonstrate their expertise in getting around traffic jams.
“I know a lot of people think they know the secret passages through the Sepulveda Pass,” he said. “Unfortunately, for every secret passage that you know, there’s probably 50,000 [people] that know that same passage. There is gonna be no secret way through the closure. It’s just something that we’re just gonna have to live with."
Caltrans and Los Angeles County Metro said the contractor in charge of demolition of the Mulholland Bridge has some motivation to get it done on time. For every 10 minutes the freeway shutdown runs past 6 a.m. Monday morning, contractor – Kiewit International – will have to pay a $6,000 penalty.
"That first minute is the $6,000," said Doug Failing, executive director Los Angeles Metro’s Highway Program. "He then has nine more minutes to finish getting everything together, get off the road, then he hits another 10 minute increment, so that second 10 minutes is another $6,000. We don’t’ want him thinking it’s $600 a minute and he can just take his time. We want him to be really incentivized to get off before that first minute hits."
About a half million people travel the 405 freeway every day.