Los Angeles is a city that is used to traffic jams -- they happen every day. But the traffic jam to end all traffic jams could be in the offing next weekend. It is expected to be so bad, city officials are calling it "carmageddon."
The 405 freeway -- one of the busiest and most congested highways in the nation -- is undergoing a much-needed, $1 billion widening project. Part of the project is to replace the historic Mulholland Bridge that runs over the freeway. But first the old bridge must be removed, and that cannot be done while traffic flows beneath.
So for 53 hours starting late Friday night July 15 and continuing through early Monday morning, the 405 will be closed for 11 miles -- between its intersections with the 10 and 101 freeways.
The 405 carries 500,000 vehicles every weekend, and those cars will have to go somewhere when they get to the roadblock. That would mean local streets and other highways. City officials fear back-ups all over the place.
For the past month or so they have been sounding the alarm, warning people to either get out of town, or if they insist on staying, urging them to stay home. Electronic billboards all over town screaming "EXPECT BIG DELAYS" are adding to the stress of anticipation of carmageddon.
City leaders are not helping matters with comments like these:
“If you think the 405 is gridlocked during the week, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told The New York Times. “My message is to stay home. Or go on vacation. Walk. Go on a bike. But do not get in your car and go anywhere near the West Side. It’s going to be a mess.”
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said, “This is truly a potential paralysis moment.”
For a city that has survived fires, mudslides, riots and Paris Hilton, a little traffic should be no big deal.
Photo courtesy The New York Times