405 shutdown: Red Line Metro rides to be free when 405 closes in July

The dreaded 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
The dreaded 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
arbyreed/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Free subway rides will be offered on the Red Line subway under the Hollywood Hills on the July weekend when the 405 freeway is blocked over 53 hours for a construction project, Metro officials are saying today.

The transit agency and Caltrans need to close the 405 starting the night of July 15 to demolish part of a landmark bridge that stands in the way of a $1.3 billion widening project.

A news conference is planned for Monday to announce details about how Angelenos and tourists can use public transit during the Friday-through-Monday morning closure.

Closure of the busiest north-south artery in L.A. for an entire weekend is expected to create massive traffic problems north and south of the Hollywood Hills, which bifurcate the city.

Major stress is expected on other freeways, particularly near Dodger Stadium and in the Studio City area. Two-lane routes across the hills, like Topanga, Benedict and Laurel canyons, are also expected to be jammed.

And because the closure will extend as far south as the 10 freeway, major jams can be expected on the Westside, including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and even Malibu.

Metro plans to run extra buses on major east-west streets, like Ventura, Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards. Although regular fares will be collected on buses, they will connect to the free Red Line trains for access across the mountains that separate the San Fernando Valley from Hollywood and the rest of L.A.

Sepulveda Boulevard, which runs through the construction zone, will be reserved for residents of the immediate Sepulveda Pass area only.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky predicts "the potential of the mother of all traffic jams" and said anyone who thinks they know a shortcut across the mountains should "save your gas."

"I know virtually every shortcut in these parts, and none will work because of the sheer volume of vehicles being taken off the freeway," he said in his blog.