Thursday, July 14, 2011

from ZevsBLOG: Our Carmageddon cheat sheet

After months of preparations and weeks of dire prognostications, the 53-hour closure of the 405 Freeway is finally upon us. Whether L.A. faces Carmageddon this weekend or witnesses a benign replay of the traffic-lite1984 Olympics, knowing a few basics will help you successfully navigate the shutdown.
Beyond adopting the official mantra of “plan ahead, stay home, avoid the area,” here’s a short list of things you really need to know.
What’s happening when
As part of the $1.034 billion project to add a 10-mile northbound carpool line and other improvements to the 405 Freeway, on-ramps to the 405 between the 10 and 101 will begin closing at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 15. Traffic lanes will start closing at 10 p.m. Friday, and the freeway is scheduled to shut down completely at midnight. It is scheduled to remain closed all of Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17. The closure, needed to demolish the south side of the Mulholland Bridge over the freeway, is scheduled to wrap up by 5 a.m. on Monday, July 18, with the freeway reopening to traffic at 6 a.m. The project website has more information.
What’s closed
The northbound 405 Freeway will be closed from the 10 to the 101. The southbound 405 will be closed from the 101 to Getty Center Drive. Sepulveda Boulevard is designated for local access only, and officials are strongly urging non-residents to stay away (although IDs will not be checked to verify residency).  Canyon roads are expected to be clogged and gridlock could seriously affect freeways across the region—not just those on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley—so don’t travel unless you really need to. (Here are some tips for making the best of it close to home.) And please note—The Getty and the Skirball Cultural Center are both closed all weekend.
Check out the detour maps
Getting around will likely be a challenge, no matter where you are in the region. If you must drive, here are the official detour maps.
Who to call in an emergency
As always, dial 911. Officials of the “unified command” overseeing public safety during the closure considered establishing a special number for nearby residents to call but decided that the capabilities of the 911 system (which can trace dropped calls and record all communications) made it the best way to go. For more on the emergency response plans, read this.
What to know before heading to LAX
This webpage provides valuable information for anyone who needs to get to or from the airport. Allow plenty of time, and plan ahead.
How to contact the project hotline
The 405 project hotline, (213) 922-3665, will be monitored all weekend. This is not the number to call in an emergency, or for driving directions, but is a good way to bring other matters to the attention of the project’s community relations staff. If you’d prefer to e-mail, contact informationis on the project website.
Staying on top of traffic conditions
For real time traffic conditions, check out Go511.
Keeping up with developments on Twitter and Facebook
Get up-to-the-minute updates on Twitter. (Search for #405Official.) The project website is hereand its Facebook page is here.
How to get a free ride on public transportation
Many Metro trains and buses will be free throughout the weekend, and extra service is planned. Read all about it here.
From the Valley to the beach—by bus
Just because the freeway’s closed doesn’t mean the beach is out of reach. Travelers from the San Fernando Valley and Topanga Canyon can ride the Topanga Canyon Summer Beach Bus to Topanga, Will Rogers and Santa Monica state beaches both days this weekend. The cost is 50 cents each way, with seniors and the disabled paying a quarter. The pickup and drop-off times and locations are here. The Topanga beach bus is adding special Sunday service this weekend to help offset the effects of the 405 Freeway closure. (Summer beach service from some other parts of the county is being suspended for the weekend; check the Department of Public Works website before making plans.)
What’s exactly happening out there anyway?
This detailed explanation of the demolition plans, posted on Metro’s blog The Source, gives a good sense of what will be going on while the freeway is closed. And in this live chat last month, officials explained why the Mulholland Bridge’s design—a steep single span with no center column—makes the full weekend closure necessary for safety reasons.
When do we get to do this again?
Mark your calendar: in about 11 months or so, demolition of the north side of the Mulholland Bridge is set to take place— which means another long freeway closure coming in 2012.