405 updates: Carmageddon over earlier than expected

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Grant Slater/KPCC

Signs welcomed Los Angeles drivers back onto a section of the 405 freeway that had been closed for much of the weekend.

We've been documenting the 405 closure, and now reopening, here.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. | Permalink
Remember, this will happen again
In 11 months, CalTrans is planning to take down the north side of the Mulholland Bridge, requiring a process similar to the one we've just experienced. Will it go as smoothly?

Updated at 3:11 p.m. | Permalink
Not braking for the 405
Over at the L.A. Times, one reporter is relishing his brake-free drive on the 405 this afternoon.

It’s never happened before, and probably won’t happen again, but Sunday I made it from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley without touching my brake pedal once.

Updated at 1:07 p.m. | Permalink
Benefits of reopening early
Obviously, one is that drivers can now access the entire 405. But there's also the financial benefit: The entire project saves $700,000 because they cut out an entire 12-hour shift of police, fire and construction workers. Also, the contractor benefits with a $300,000 bonus. So the overall savings is $400,000.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. | Permalink
From the trivia department
With so many people staying off the freeways, yesterday was an easy day for the Highway Patrol and tow truck drivers. The patrol only handled 70 accidents from Friday night through Saturday afternoon, less than half the normal number.

Updated at 12:37 p.m. | Permalink
What's opening in what order
Southbound ramps will open in this order: Ventura, Valley Vista, Skirball. Will occur at same time as northbound openings. Northbound in this order: Cotner, Santa Monica, Wilshire, Sunset, Moraga, Getty Center. The northbound Skirball on and off-ramps will not reopen until 3 p.m.

Updated at 12:28 p.m. | Permalink
The first real cars
A shot from KPCC's Grant Slater, who points out that drivers had to endure a slight traffic jam to be among the first to get on the reopened road.

Updated at 12:14 p.m. | Permalink
Cars are flooding the freeway
KPCC's Brian Watt shot this video of the first real cars let back on the freeway. Click through on his tweet.

Updated at 12:12 p.m. | Permalink
Piece of the bridge
Here's a shot from earlier sent by KPCC's Brian Watt of Metro CEO Art Leahy, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and Department of Transportation District 7 director Mike Miles posing with pieces of the Mulholland Bridge.

Updated at 12:10 p.m. | Permalink
A victory lap
Police, construction workers and other officials tooks a victory lap on the empty 405 as it was reopening, honking their horns in celebration and Brian Watt got a bit of it on video:













Updated at 9:32 a.m., July 17 | Permalink
405 reopening early
Read the story here

Updated at 5:29 p.m. | Permalink
Carmaheaven?
The nightmare scenario of traffic gridlock tying up L.A.'s freeways that Angelinos had been fearing has so far failed to materialize. Meanwhile, tweets have turned from panicked to celebratory. The #carmageddon Twitter hashtag has been evolving towards #carmaheaven as the day has progressed and officials' call to avoid the freeways has resulted in greatly reduced traffic.

Some people are calling #Carmageddon, #CarmaHeaven because traffic is so light! Loving it myself. w00t!! less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Mayor Villaraigosa called for drivers to continue avoiding their cars on Sunday, cautioning that gridlock could come if drivers see the light traffic and head back to the freeways.

"What we want to emphasize to people is: it's working," Villaraigosa said, adding that the reason it was working is that people have been staying off the freeways.

Meanwhile, our photographer Grant Slater sends a few photos from the 405:

Updated at 4:31 p.m. | Permalink
Zev Yaroslavsky, the man who named Carmageddon
From the bridge site where he's been all day, Brian Watt sends a photo of Zev Yaroslavsky, the L.A. County supervisor who gave Carmageddon its name. He showed up to observe the scene this afternoon:

At an earlier press conference, Yaroslavsky was praised by California Department of Transportation District 7 director Mike Miles for the alarmist title, the L.A. Times reported today:

“That’s when people started saying the world’s going to end. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes sometimes,” Miles said.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. | Permalink
Villaraigosa: It's 'Carmaheaven'
Mayor Villaraigosa said in a news conference during the last hour that Carmageddon is turning out to be more like "Carmaheaven." The Metro is doing brisker business than usual, he reported. But, he said, people need to continue to stay home in order for the weekend to be a success.

Updated at 3:57 p.m. | Permalink
Facebook responses to Carmageddon's calm

Earlier today on KPCC's Facebook page, we asked people's opinions about whether the 405 shutdown was overhyped. Here's a selection of responses:

• "We will never know if there was too much hype. Had we not publicized this so much, it would have certainly been worse, no matter how bad the gridlock gets this weekend."
• "I live in Benedict Canyon which is always busy, even when the freeways are open. Last night & today you could have heard a pin drop. I think people really heeded the warnings & chose to stay home, leave town, or leave work early yesterday, in order to avoid a mess."
• "What if the hype is what made it a non-event?"

What do you think? Did the hype help?

Updated at 2:52 p.m. | Permalink
L.A. councilman Paul Koretz shows up at bridge on his bike

KPCC's Brian Watt says Koretz biked from his home in the Fairfax district, about 10 miles away. Koretz said he probably hadn't been on a bike in 10 years. Here is he with the L.A. Metro's highway program director Doug Failing:

"As it turned out ... because the public did what we asked them to do, because the media did a good job of getting the word out ... traffic is light," Koretz said. "It should be done on time and maybe early."

Updated at 2:44 p.m. | Permalink
Two cyclists arrested
KPCC's Kevin Ferguson reports that two shirtless cyclists didn't heed warnings from police, and were indeed arrested around 2:15 p.m by the California Highway Patrol. They were riding on the 405 around Wilshire. Police released them after impounding their bikes.

Updated at 1:59 p.m. | Permalink
Media allowed on 405, debris continues to fall from bridge
KPCC's Brian Watt reports that work is continuing at a steady pace, and dump trucks are hauling pieces of the bridge away. In the last hour, media crews were allowed on the empty 405:

Updated at 1:45 p.m. | Permalink
WATCH: Video of empty, empty 405
An L.A. woman was apparently allowed on a shuttered section of the 405 this morning, and took a lone drive on it for fun, reports the L.A. Times. Here's the video she recorded for posterity.

Updated at 1:24 p.m. | Permalink
Man arrested for DUI after trying to get on 405
From the emergency operations center, KPCC's Kevin Ferguson reports that police arrested a male driver around 11:15 a.m. for driving under the influence after he drove around a barrier to get on the 405 south at Valley Vista. Also, a skateboarder was cited this morning for being on the 405 around Sunset Boulevard. The jogger who was arrested earlier (wearing a helmet cam) has been released.

Updated at 1:02 p.m. | Permalink
Radio silence
"It's as if all of Los Angeles has really just stayed home for the most part," says KPCC's Sanden Totten. He's now driving from L.A. back into the San Fernando Valley over Coldwater Canyon Avenue. He just drove from the Valley to Sunset on Laurel Canyon, and it was smooth sailing.

Updated at 1:00 p.m. | Permalink
Beach day

KPCC’s Ashley Bailey has been riding the bus all over West L.A. and Santa Monica near the ground zero for Carmageddon. And she’s been chatting up the people she meets — like Maritza Hernandez, who lives in the Coachella Valley. She and her husband and their three teenage kids thought about canceling their beach trip today, but they decided to risk it and head to Santa Monica, Carmageddon or not.

"We drove through the I-10," she said. "And it was surprisingly, well, we were expecting it to be overflowing with traffic. But it was actually the best traffic we’ve had so for since we’ve been coming, like every summer on the weekends."

The drive from the desert took only about two-and-a-half hours.

Updated at 12:53 p.m. | Permalink
Lunch time

SA-ALL: Penhall, the demolition subcontractor, is taking a 30-minute lunch break. #405Official.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Updated at 12:37 p.m. | Permalink
#flightvsbike officially wins
The cyclists have checked in at the lighthouse that was the goal, KPCC's Molly Peterson reports on Twitter.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. | Permalink
Helicopter eye's view
You can thank the City of Santa Monica for this shot:

Updated at 12:14 p.m. | Permalink
Sepulveda is a ghost town
So says KPCC's Sanden Totten, who has given up on finding a traffic jam on the west side, has exited his car, and met Jim Greenwood while he was taking a weekend stroll.

"[I'm] taking a walk from Sherman Oaks. Came up here ‘cause they were taking down part of the bridge, so I thought I’d take some pictures. Nice hike. About five miles." The roads, he said, look very different than what he's used to.

"It’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s great! There’s no traffic," he said.

Police and traffic officials are a little concerned that people might look at today’s wide-open freeways, and figure they’ll be that way tomorrow. They say stay off the roads for one more day.

Updated at 12:14 p.m. | Permalink
Update on #flightvsbike
KPCC's Molly Peterson reports the cyclists are somewhere in the Compton area, and so is the transit rider who is trying to beat the JetBlue Flight 405. The flight isn't supposed to take off for about another 15 minutes. So it's looking good for the non-plane riders overall.

Updated at 12:03 p.m. | Permalink
More on the 405 cyclists, arrested jogger
KPCC's Kevin Ferguson has more: Cops now saying that six to eight cyclists have been escorted off the 405 today, but any more will be arrested. And that jogger who was arrested because he had a prior arrest warrant? Officials are estimating he was about 70-years-old.

Updated at 11:46 a.m. | Permalink
One bad traffic spot
KPCC's Nick Roman reports on what is apparently the single bad traffic spot in Southern California right now. He says traffic is bad I-5 south through San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. It's poking along at 20 mph, which is normal for this time of day on a Saturday. But, once you get through it, "the beach weather in South Orange County is fabulous," he says.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. | Permalink
Cotton candy for Carmageddon
Intrepid intern Ashley Bailey brings us our Carmageddon novelty item of the day:

Updated at 11:13 a.m. | Permalink
Speaking of bicycle riders ...
One made good on a threat to try to bike the empty 405 this morning. He was escorted off. Reports City News Service:

The rider, on racing-style bike, was spotted at 8:36 a.m. near the Montana Avenue in Brentwood, Sherman said. A CHP motorcycle officer shadowed the man and persuaded him to pull off the freeway near the junction with the Santa Monica (10) Freeway about 10 minutes later, he said.

A rogue jogger was also caught, said KFI reporter Eric Leonard on Twitter.

UPDATE to the update: There was a prior warrant out for the jogger's arrest, so he was arrested, reports KPCC's Kevin Ferguson. The cyclist was let go on a warning, but police said any other cyclists will be arrested for trespassing.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. | Permalink
Bikes vs. JetBlue flight about to begin
A group of cyclists is getting ready to try to race one of the $4 JetBlue flights from Burbank to Los Angeles. It starts at 10:50 a.m. and L.A.'s Streetsblog is tracking it, along with an handy GPS map they've put together. KPCC's Molly Peterson is also paying attention, so follow her on Twitter to see who wins. Here's her previous radio story on the race. There's also a very active Twitter tag — #flightvsbike.

Updated at 10:29 a.m. | Permalink
Indeed, drivers are turning to trains today
The L.A. Times reports:

The train saved the day on "Carmageddon" for many Santa Clarita residents who needed to travel downtown and beyond on Saturday and wanted to avoid getting stuck in traffic on the freeways. At least a dozen people stood on the platform at the Santa Clarita Metrolink station waiting for the day’s first train on the Antelope Valley line to arrive at 7:30 a.m. Many of the commuters acknowledged that they would typically be in their cars this weekend morning — if it wasn't for fear of Carmageddon.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. | Permalink
Gold Line is packed
So says KPCC's Kevin Ferguson, who just boarded the Gold Line in Highland Park on his way to the city's emergency operations center. And it's not even one of the lines Metro has made free this weekend to encourage people to take public transportation around the shutdown. So stay tuned on this one.

Updated at 9:48 a.m. | Permalink
'If you lived in Beverly Glen, you'd be home by now'
KPCC's Sanden Totten, who is driving around the west side today on purpose, brings us a sign from one of the many businesses trying to capitalize on Carmageddon.

Updated at 9:48 a.m. | Permalink
The big show
KPCC's Brian Watt is observing the destruction of the south side of the Mulholland Bridge, which is what this shut down is all about, after all. He reports that it's quite a show: "It's just really something to watch the pieces of rock ... fall," he said. And he's not alone — people who live nearby have come by to take a look, too, he says. People are also coming from further away, like the cyclists below who stopped by, and said they were enjoying the unusual view. "It's really wonderful to be able to see it from down below, and see the space of the pass," said one of the cyclists, referring to the 405's path through the Sepulveda Pass.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. | Permalink
Backing up on the 405
Well, not every single thing went smooth last night as officials shut down every on- and off-ramps in the 10-mile stretch. Watch this video of a bit of chaos as one driver apparently decides to back out of an on-ramp as it's being shut down.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. | Permalink
EMTs on motorcycles
L.A. fire captain Craig White reminds KPCC's Shirley Jahad that there are additional emergency resources all around the freeway this weekend, including the deployment of a pilot program that puts EMTS and other first responders on motorcycles in order to cut down on response time in case of heavy traffic. "At the end of this weekend, we'll evaluate," how it went, the captain said. The pilot program consists of four motorcycles, with two bikes on the west side of the city, and two on the east.

Updated at 8:27a.m. | Permalink
From the Carmageddon trivia file

#carmageddon 405 traffic warning signs appearing on San Francisco and Sacramento freeways, 6 hours north, 400 miles away from Los Angeles.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Updated at 8:19 a.m. | Permalink
Bus seems to be so far, so good, too
KPCC intern Ashley Bailey, who is on the 733 bus right now, says it's half full, and the driver says that's normal for this time on a Saturday morning.

Updated at 8:03 a.m. | Permalink
So far, so good
KPCC's Brian Watt reports from the 405 bright and early this morning. "The traffic cams on the 10 and the 101 freeways show light traffic and smooth sailing past the 405 intersections," he said. From his vantage point about a quarter mile south of the bridge, sparks are flying and jackhammers are jackhammering at the Mulholland Bridge. He says there is some concrete dust floating his way. Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero says 100 workers are starting from the center of the bridge and working their way out.


Brian Watt interviewing Dave Sotero this morning.

Jump to Friday's updates here.

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