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City officials claimed success when a 10-mile stretch of Los Angeles’ 405 freeway closed for weekend construction reopened a day early
“Carmageddon” — the shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of one of America’s busiest highways for construction — ended in success instead of gridlock Sunday when Los Angeles’ 405 highway reopened nearly a day early.
Weekend closure of the 405 between the 10 and 101 freeway interchanges began Friday at 7 p.m. and was expected to continue through Monday at 5 a.m. But when construction crews finished tearing down the Mulholland Bridge early, the highway reopened at 11:47 on Sunday — 17 hours ahead of schedule. The early completion reportedly saved the city $700,000.
"A lot is said that this is the car capital of the United States of America, the congestion capital, the city most addicted to the single-passenger automobile," L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference Sunday morning. "But not enough is said about the people of Los Angeles when they come together to make something work."
Days before the closure media outlets and civic leaders began warning L.A. residents to make alternative plans to avoid gridlock. Even celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Tom Hanks tweeted that motorists should stay home. And Erik Estrada, who played California highway patrolman Frank “Ponch” Poncherello in the popular “CHIPs” television series, appeared in an MTA public service announcement on YouTube urging drivers to heed the warning.
Adding to the hype, JetBlue Airways announced it was offering an “Over the 405” special — $4 flights between the Long Beach to Burbank airports to bypass the shutdown by air. Tickets for the four one-way flights sold out within 2 hours of going on sale last Wednesday, airline spokeswoman Jenny Dervin told Reuters.
Demolition of the Mulholland Bridge is part of a $1-billion project to add carpool lanes and make other improvements to the 405 freeway, perhaps best known for the low-speed police chase of O.J. Simpson in June 1994 when he was suspected of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The second phase of the project is scheduled for next summer.