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Past LA freeway closures went fairly smoothly

July 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Final preparations are under way for Friday night's Carmaggedon freeway closure. The Interstate 405 Freeway will be shut down in both directions between the 10 and the 101 freeways. But this isn't the first time the city has had a major freeway shutdown.

Five-hundred thousand cars travel on the 405 every day. Even on weekends it's still a tough drive. So when this vital stretch is shut down on Friday night, where will all these cars go? Officials have urged people to simply stay away.

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

"Sepulveda is a very small, narrow street, and if a half-a-million people want to try to get across it, forget it," said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

Rosendahl remembers last August when his Westside district was gridlocked with huge traffic jams when President Barack Obama came to town and roads were blocked during rush hour. In that case there was little advance notice.

"We have a Westside that's gridlocked. It's rough enough living here that we don't need to make it worse," said Rosendahl. "

We've been through this before: In 1984 during the Olympics people predicted terrible traffic jams, but perhaps heeding the warnings, people stayed away and it was not so bad.

"No, it wasn't so bad. In fact it was amazingly good," said USC Professor Gen Giuliano, an expert in urban transportation. "They stopped doing unnecessary travel. So people stayed close to home, they chose the neighborhood supermarket closest to them. They did not go across town."

In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a portion of the 10 Freeway collapsed and was shut down for three months. The 5 Freeway at the 14 also had to be rebuilt. Drivers somehow found other ways to get around it.

"Traffic just disappears," said Giuliano. "Sometimes we don't know where it goes. And so in the case of the 10, people chose alternate routes, but they also just avoided the area, and again, they just adapted their travel to be able to avoid the worst of what they were thinking would happen."

Guiliano says there are now more cars on the road than there was in the 1980s and '90s, but somehow drivers managed to adjust and they managed to find alternate routes and keep traffic moving.

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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