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Is closing the 405 Freeway really necessary?

Commuters on the Westside are preparing for 'Carmageddon,' July's closure of the 405 Freeway.
July 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The San Diego (405) Freeway will be closed primarily so that the Mulholland Drive bridge can be demolished. It will require two closures: one this weekend and another next year. But it didn't have to be this way.

There was at least one alternate plan that some say could have saved $10 million in construction costs and would require the 405 to be closed just once.

See a live cam shot of the Mulholland Bridge construction site.

"It looked like an option that could have potentially saved us money, gone a little bit faster. But it was not what was originally intended so we had to go back, we had to talk to the communities," said Doug Falling, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

That plan called for a new bridge to be built along the existing bridge, then the old one would have been demolished.

"It would have still required a closure, maybe not as severe as this because maybe we could have staged it different," said Michael Miles of Caltrans. "We certainly would have torn it all down at one time so it wouldn't have required two closures."

The alternate plan was opposed by property owners and neighborhood groups. Some worried it wouldn't match the look of the neighborhood. It also meant new environmental impact reports and possibly lawsuits. It could have delayed the project for years.

"Delaying the project would have cost far more than what we could have gained by just proceeding ahead with the original plan," Falling said.

Harriet Fink, who lives in Bel Air, said despite residents' opposition, she thinks that the MTA and Caltrans should have gone through with the alternate plan because it could have been less expensive and less intrusive.

"I went to every meeting and looked at all the plans and they selected the plan that they wanted. God only knows why," she said.

The 53-hour closure begins at 7 p.m. Friday and ends at 6 a.m. Monday.

Beat Carmageddon with ABC7

The 405 shuts down the weekend of July 16-17, and ABC7 Eyewitness News is your home for the latest traffic news and information. Follow @abc7 and @BeatCarmageddon on Twitter, and use the hash tag #abc7traffic.

ABC7 has also partnered with Waze to help navigate the traffic. Download the Waze app, which provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation based on the live conditions of the road. Join the community of drivers in Southern California today and beat Carmageddon.

Check out the latest Carmageddon coverage from abc7.com


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