Carmageddon, or Carmaheaven?

A little over a year ago, Angelenos were bracing for what they called “Carmageddon,” an epic traffic tie-up resulting from the closing of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway for an entire weekend as part of the freeway-widening project.

For those who don’t know, the 405 Freeway is a U.S. interstate route that runs from Irvine, California, north to the Mission Hills district of Los Angeles. It’s been ranked the most heavily traveled section of freeway in the US. And in 1994, the 405 was the stage of that infamous low-speed police chase of O.J. Simpson, then a suspect in the killings his ex-wife and a friend in Brentwood. But for many people in the area, the 405 is their route to work, shop, and visit friends and family.

Would Angelenos survive a weekend without the 405?

Well, they did, and “Carmageddon” never happened. Angelenos listened to the warnings from county officials and public service announcements from celebrities to avoid L.A.’s Westside, and averted the anticipated epic traffic jam. The work went on smoothly and crews were able to finish it ahead of schedule. Locals even found a way to have fun with Carmageddon.

Fast-forward to September 2012, and here we are all hyped up about Carmageddon II. As usual, the media is playing up the event, which started on Friday, September 28, and will end before rush hour early Monday, October 1.

Friday night, working crews closed ramps along the 10-mile area of the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 Freeways, and early Saturday morning demolition of the remaining half of the Mulholland Drive Bridge was well underway. Later in the day, there was news of a few glitches during the demolition, but apparently they were dealt with satisfactorily and contractors still expect to finish the work on schedule.

Given last year’s positive experience, Angelenos are taking Carmageddon II in stride. As advised, they are giving themselves plenty of extra time to get to their destination and  avoiding using streets near the 405. Many chose to stay home or to enjoy places close to home. Mayor Villaraigosa is calling this enterprise “Carmaheaven.” I hope he’s right!

As for me, living in Brentwood, not too far from the area under construction, I can’t wait for this to be over. Since it started, helicopters and small planes have been a constant nuisance flying over our neighborhood at all hours, even as late as 1:30 am. Hopefully, once the frenzy over Carmageddon II is over, we’ll have some relief both in air and road traffic.

As if to remind me that this is not happening any time soon, a chopper just hovered over the house, proving that even at home, one cannot escape Carmageddon II. Sigh!

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