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'Jamzilla': Why LA Metro almost called the project 'Pave-a-thon'

by Kevin Ferguson | Off-Ramp®

During Carmageddon, Construction crews laid out piles of dirt to catch falling debris from the bridge demolition that Saturday morning. Metro doesn't expect the work during Jamzilla to be as extensive, but warns the project could be even worse for traffic if motorists don't avoid the 405. Grant Slater/KPCC

Los Angeles will experience a phenomenon called "Jamzilla" from February 14 through 18. 

It's not a giant lizard, a monster truck rally, or an all day Phish concert, it's LA's next Carmageddon. For those four days, the northbound 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass will have only a few lanes open, and at night it'll shut down completely. 

Jamzilla is a great name, and Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson tracked down the man responsible: Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. 

"We were trying to come up with a term that would have the same impact as the world famous Carmageddon, back in 2011," said Sotero.

Like the FBI and its penchant for naming bandits, the process has become a proud civic tradition. Orange County had "Bridge Bash," the Wilshire interchange along the 405 took the nom-de-guerre "Ramp Jam," though the Internet decided to call it a "Rampture." 

RELATED: Who birthed 'Jamzilla' on the Sepulveda Pass? 

Topping that would be a daunting task.

As the project began to ramp up, Sotero said Metro's Public Relations team sat down in a meeting room, bringing with them a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. Then, they got to work. 

One name that didn't make the cut was "Pave-a-thon." Sotero explained the name sort of makes sense. 

"This is a major paving operation," he said. "And it's like a marathon by taking many many hours to complete...that one wasn't so great." 

The team also looked into calling the project "The Sepulveda Pass Snarl," which could just as easily be a long forgotten dance routine. Sotero said that was rejected, too, because it was too long. Metro needed a one word term. Enter Jamzilla. 

"Obviously, it's a joining of two different concepts. One of them is a traffic jam — the public understands traffic jams. And the other one is Godzilla. So, you know, traffic like Godzilla is a danger to humanity," said Soteo. "You want to avoid both, if you can."

Officials say it's best if you take Sotero's advice and avoid driving to LA's Westside if you can. "We anticipate that there will be multi-hour delays for people that do decide to try to get through the Sepulveda Pass with the two available lanes that will remain open."

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