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Carmageddon ends, 405 Freeway opens early

The 405 closure ended early Sunday afternoon, as construction on the freeway ended hours ahead of schedule.
July 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The 405 closure ended more than 15 hours ahead of schedule early in the day Sunday, resulting in a calm end to what could have been a traffic nightmare.

Caltrans had planned to reopen the 10-mile stretch of the 405 from the 10 to 101 freeways at 5 a.m. Monday, but crews made quick work of taking down the south side of the Mulholland Drive Bridge.

Crews worked around the clock overnight to push ahead of schedule. The freeway closed at midnight Friday.

See a live cam shot of the Mulholland Bridge.

Officials had said they weren't going to open the freeway earlier than scheduled because they had to clean up and make sure the I-405 was safe to reopen.

However, at a Sunday morning press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he expected the freeway to reopen starting as early as 11:30 a.m. Just before noon, the freeway began to open and a few hours later traffic was moving smoothly in both directions.

Overnight, workers focused much of their efforts on chipping away at the south side of the Mulholland overpass with huge jackhammers and cutting saws.

Officials said about 4,000 pounds of concrete were removed. The debris had been falling onto the 405, but workers laid down a thick layer of dirt to protect the surface of the freeway.

Crews completed the final phase of the demolition when two huge support columns were knocked down.

The California Highway Patrol drove through the reopened stretch, then began escorting the first vehicles through after workers removed cones and road blocks about 11:30 a.m.

"We couldn't have done it without the cooperation of the people of this city," Villaraigosa said. "It looks like they got the message. They actually not only didn't get in their car?they didn't leave their home."

The north side of the Mulholland Bridge will be knocked down next year. Once the entire project is complete, the bridge will become wider and longer.

Traffic moves smoothly on Carmageddon weekend

People thought the Westside would be paralyzed this Carmageddon weekend, but the gridlock never materialized.

"We expected complete chaos from the hype of the radio station and everything, but didn't seem to happen," said David Hilton of West Hollywood. "It was beautiful."

Others appreciated it as well, saying it's been good for the environment.

"It's been lovely. I think we should do it all the time. I think this should encourage people more to walk, use less gas. I think it's a good learning experience for all of us," said Kristen Turner of West Hollywood.

Normally on the weekends, about a half million drivers travel on the 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway that was closed. But on Saturday, nearby freeways and surface streets were clear of traffic jams.

"Two thirds of the people who usually drive the freeways of this area were not on the freeways this weekend," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "Everybody can live to talk about it."

Some business owners report drop in sales due to Carmageddon

Many Westside store and restaurant owners who took a hit during the I-405 closure say they're happy Carmageddon has ended.

At the Napa Valley Grille in Westwood on Sunday night, manager Tony Del Rivero said they had more walk-ins than they expected.

Del Rivero said they lost 15 to 20 percent but they were expecting more than that.

"It wasn't, so that worked out pretty well for us," he said.

Hamburger Habit owner Frank Pezeshki said business is now back to normal after about a 5 percent drop in business due to Carmageddon.

"It was the major topic of conversation for the past two weeks," he said. "That's all everyone was talking about, especially since this being the ground zero right off the freeway."

His eatery is right next to a 405 onramp in West Los Angeles.

For one car wash in the area, the manager said they got about 20 percent fewer customers during the closure.

Some people who went shopping said they noticed stores weren't crowded as usual.

"A lot less people in the stores, on the streets, everywhere," said Heather Marsh of West Los Angeles. "To me, it looks like everyone left town just because of this Carmageddon."

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Beat Carmageddon with ABC7

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