Feared Los Angeles Carmageddon Disappoints Local News, Relieves Politicians, Contractors

The media-hyped ‘Carmageddon’ never materialized after Los Angeles motorists heeded pleas from government officials and celebrities urging them to stay home during the closure of a 10-mile stretch of the usually heavily-traveled 405 freeway. Construction crews finished the demolition and reconstruction of the Mulholland Bridge that goes over Southern Californians busiest thoroughfares earlier than expected.

The 10-mile stretch from the 10 and 101 freeways was scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. today in time for morning rush hour. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Sunday morning that the 405 freeway would reopen at 11:30 a.m that day. The project was completed 17 hours ahead of schedule, with the first cars appearing on the freeway just after noon Sunday.

“This weekend was more of a `Carmaheaven’ than a Carmageddon,” Villaraigosa said in a statement praising contractors for their quick work and thanking residents who avoided the freeways this weekend.

Officials said there were 65 percent fewer vehicles on the freeways this weekend than normal in the L.A. metro area. “I’d like to thank all Angelenos for heeding the call and staying in their neighborhoods,” Villaraigosa said. “Thanks to their patience and cooperation, the city’s roads and highways were practically empty.”

Although the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, faced a $72,000-an-hour fine if it didn’t finish on time, it will now receive a $300,000 bonus for finishing early. Finishing early saved the project $400,000 after paying the bonus.

The 405 will close again in about 11 months to finish the rest of the project. Officials are hoping the next closure will run as smoothly as the first one, but are worried motorists will be more adventurous after the uneventful weekend.

“Carmageddon” was coined by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at a June press conference, when he said that “this doesn’t need to be a Carmageddon” if people avoided driving. After the weekend construction project went off without a hitch, Yaroslavsky said “I think people in L.A. have learned that you can get along without having to take long car rides on a weekend.”

Here’s a re-cap of some of the coverage of the freeway closure from over the weekend. Also, be sure to check out our earlier Rumors post on some of the hype and mania leading up to the closure.

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