• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Carmageddon: Crews poised to stay on schedule

Crews were poised to work hard through Saturday night to stay on schedule for the 405 Freeway project.

July 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Carmageddon weekend is off to a good start. Caltrans officially closed the 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 from the 10 to 101 freeways at midnight Saturday and all was well during the first leg of the project.

Construction crews got to work right away on the demolition of the Mulholland Drive Bridge in the Sepulveda Pass.

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

Crews brought in major equipment to knock down the south half of the structure, which is the reason for the 53-hour closure.

Caltrans began closing on-and off-ramps of the 405 in both directions at 7 p.m. Friday. The freeway closed at midnight and demolition will take place around the clock, with the stretch expecting to reopen at 5 a.m. Monday.

So far, so good. By late Saturday night, Angelenos avoided the epic traffic jams feared leading up to the closure. Freeways were clear through the afternoon.

"What we want to emphasize to people is it's working," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during a press conference Saturday afternoon. "It's working because they're cooperating, they're staying away from the Westside, they're not getting on the freeways, they're even doing what we said: not getting in their car at all. If they continue to do that, we fully expect that this is going to go just as smoothly as it's gone up to now."

At the construction site, sparks were seen flying as workers cut away at the iron supports of the bridge.

The Mulholland Bridge was built in 1959. It is currently 72 feet wide and 579 feet long.

When construction is finished, it will be widened to 82 feet and 608 feet long.

Workers are moving columns to allow for an additional freeway lane on the northbound 405 Freeway.

Light traffic on north end of 405 closure

Traffic flowed freely Saturday night on the north side of the 405 closure. Many feared canyon passes and typically highly-traveled boulevards would be the scene of gridlock.

From Sherman Oaks to Encino, many people were out on foot. Some said they may change their plans and hit the road because of just how empty the streets were, but most people said they are sticking close to home.

Traffic zips by on south side of 405 closure

It's a rare day when the streets of Westwood are as quiet as they were on Saturday afternoon.

"There's no one around," said Tom Oser of Hollywood Hills. "I can go on my errands, I got my haircut. I went to the cleaners, I had a slice of pizza. I'm going to work out. There's no one on the streets."

So far, the feared traffic congestion resulting from the closure of the 405 has not materialized.

With so many people staying off the streets, customer traffic is down for businesses.

"Not good for business," said one business owner. "When I was coming, it was very quiet. Business is very slow."

Canyon roads feel effect of 405 closure

Residents and businesses along the canyon roads connecting the Westside and San Fernando Valley braced themselves for gridlock this weekend. But through the afternoon Saturday, that didn't end up happening.

"It is a ghost town out here," said Beverly Glen resident Bob Barker. "I went down to the health club, it was a ghost town down there. It's amazing."

That was bad news for business owners.

"It's very slow, nobody here," said David Shamsa, owner of the Canyon Country Store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. "Today, people are scared to come out. Our sales are almost 50 percent down."

Traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard was steady throughout the day, but nowhere near what is considered typical for the area.

On Mulholland Drive and Beverly Glen Boulevard, at least two traffic controllers stood by to help traffic move along. Mostly, they stood on the side of the road and waited.

Saturday traffic conditions in Mar Vista, Sherman Oaks

In Mar Vista near the south side of the 405 closure, traffic was light before and after the shutdown. Along National and Sawtelle boulevards, things were wide open Friday night into Saturday morning with just a few commuters dotting the roadways.

This area is one of the spots where officials thought traffic would build, since it is where commuters would be exiting the northbound 405 Freeway to get to the Westside.

The roads were also clear in the Sherman Oaks area, except for an early accident that shut down Sepulveda Boulevard for several hours shortly after midnight.

A Honda Civic and a Porsche Carrera collided head on in the 3700 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, near Valley Meadow Road. The 28-year-old driver of the Honda died. The 61-year-old driver of the Porsche walked away with minor injuries.

Police said the driver of the Honda swerved onto the wrong side of the street.

Besides the Sepulveda crash, traffic was flowing freely surrounding the 10-mile 405 closure. But officials warned the real test was likely to begin around midday, after the country's second-largest city fully awakened.

Carmageddon draws curious spectators

While many people are avoiding the area near the 405 closure, some are heading toward the construction site.

Curious spectators arrived to the Sepulveda Pass, parking hundreds of yards away and walking to the demolition sight.

They said they wanted to get a firsthand look at the history-making closure of the freeway and the work to bring the Mulholland Drive Bridge down.

Since there is nowhere to park alongside the construction site, spectators had to navigate makeshift sidewalks and crosswalks in order to get a good view of the action.

No parking is being allowed on Ventura Boulevard between Balboa Boulevard and Sherman Oaks Avenue on the south side of the closure, and between Nobel Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard on the north side.

Also, no parking is being allowed on Sepulveda between the 405 and Greenleaf Street, and between Moraga Drive and Ovada Place.

This means temporary tow away zones are being put in place. Any vehicles parked on these streets over the weekend will be ticketed and towed to the official police garage servicing those areas.

What Southern Californians plan for Carmageddon

Eyewitness News teamed up with SurveyUSA to see what people had planned for the 405 shutdown.

A poll of 500 Southern Californians revealed that just 22 percent changed their weekend plans because of Carmageddon.

Seventy-four percent said they didn't make any changes for the weekend and 5 percent were not sure.

Seventeen percent of people said they would avoid leaving their homes and 11 percent of those surveyed said they were leaving town.

Sixty-seven percent planned to do neither and 5 percent were not sure.

Los Angeles officials ready for freeway closure

First responders including police, fire and medical personnel have all been preparing for the shutdown.

The city of Los Angeles is equipped with 200 extra firefighters to deal with any potential emergencies.

Avoiding the 405 Freeway closure

If you want to avoid stepping foot into your car this weekend, the MTA is offering free rides on 26 bus lines along major Westside and San Fernando routes to help commuters beat Carmageddon.

Also, the agency is adding dozens of buses to eight of the lines. Service will be free on the Red, Purple and Orange subway lines.

Another way to steer clear of any potential traffic is to stay indoors and possibly to some shopping.

Businesses all around the Southland are trying to ease the pain of Carmageddon with special deals.

From the sprawling Westfield malls to smaller boutiques, merchants are offering many deals to bring locals in the door.

Among those retail therapy options are various discounts, free valet parking and live music.

Even though city leaders are asking people not to drive across town this weekend, they point out most Angelenos have lots of great shopping and eating options within walking distance of their homes.

Meantime, some people avoided the closure by buying $4 tickets from JetBlue for flights between Long Beach and Burbank.

The airline said the 600 available seats sold out for the 20-minute flight in just three hours. But many of the fliers said their JetBlue Carmageddon flight had nothing to do with the 405 closure.

"This was not a solution in any way. This was, 'I want to take a flight for $4,'" said one passenger.

For those planning on driving to the Westside this weekend or happen to get stuck in Carmageddon traffic, here are some tips to staying calm: A psychiatrist from Cedar-Sinai suggests getting enough sleep, bringing water and snacks along for the ride, playing soothing music, displaying common courtesy and not reacting to other drivers.

Get live traffic maps at abc7.com/traffic

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

Load Comments