It has been called “Carmageddon,” "the nightmare on the 405" and "the mother of all traffic jams." Considering the psyche of drivers in Los Angeles, these sensationalized nicknames for the massive shutdown of the 405 freeway on July 15-18 might not be too far off the mark.
We are Angelenos, after all, and if there is one thing we have the right to do, it’s to get behind the wheel of our eco-friendly-sporty-SUV-Lexus-BMW-Toyota-hybrids and drive. Preferably while sipping on a latte, talking on our “hands-free” device and listening to Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”
For many of us, getting behind the wheel is a form of meditation. It’s time to blow off some steam, think about work or wonder what that personalized license plate on the car ahead is supposed to mean. The freeway, whether good or bad, has become a venue of release for pent-up rage, stress and frustration. However, I fear that our psyches might not be able to withstand a traffic jam of this magnitude.
Imagine the fictitious river of gooey supernatural liquid flowing below New York City, which was fed by people's rage and hatred in the movie Ghostbusters II. The 405 is very similar. Now picture a dam blocking that flow of rage and frustration, which is essentially what will happen when the 53-hour construction project commences.
In spite of the freedom the 405 provides, it’s also a cesspool of negative emotions so heavy it sucks the light from the casual passer-by, transforming even schoolteachers into homicidal maniacs. If you have never watched the movie Falling Down, I suggest you rent a copy, stock up on supplies and stay home that July weekend.
Perhaps California should declare a holiday or a state of emergency not only to commemorate the weekend that the most congested freeway in the world was completely shut off from the city’s traffic flow, but also as a way to offer busy and beleaguered commuters a few days off of work and a few days of freedom from the stress of struggling against Hummers, SUVs and semitrucks to make it on time.
But if the powers that be neglect to take advantage of this momentous opportunity for a holiday, at least it’s a good excuse for making it into work late, or not at all.
Officials are expecting traffic conditions on local streets and freeways within L.A. County and beyond to be severe, with multi-hour delays.
Here is some information from officials about alternates routes, closure times and advice about how to get from point A to point B without losing your mind.
The specific freeway closure boundaries are:
• Northbound I-405: 10-mile closure between I-10 and U.S. 101
• Southbound I-405: 4-mile closure between U.S. 101 and Getty Center Drive ramps
Officials are advising motorists who must travel through L.A. to use alternate freeways within the region, including the 5, 15, 23, 55, 57, 101, 118, 126, 210, 605 and 710, to bypass the impacted area.
In addition, officials are urging the use of public transportation such as the Metro Rail service within L.A. County and Metrolink servicing the five county Southern California region.
Additional alternate route information will be made available on the project website at www.metro.net/405.
On Friday, July 15, ramps will begin to be shut down as early as 7 p.m., and closure of freeway lanes will begin at 10 p.m. to ensure full freeway closure by midnight. The closure will continue until 5 a.m. Monday morning, July 18. Ramps and connectors will be reopened by 6 a.m.
Sepulveda Boulevard is intended as an alternate route for local resident access only. Sepulveda will not have the capacity to accommodate both local and diverted freeway traffic. Those using Sepulveda should expect extreme congestion and lengthy delays. Motorists should instead use alternate regional freeway routes to completely bypass the Sepulveda Pass, officials said in a statement.