Survival Guide: Los Angeles Carmageddon 2011

Although Automobile Magazine is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan we know many our readers are scattered throughout the globe. For those lucky readers who reside in Los Angeles, California, get ready to experience one of the largest traffic jams in Southern California’s history.

Part of Interstate 405, one of the busiest and most congested freeways in the country, is being shut down for 53 hours this weekend. The 10-mile stretch from I-10 northbound to U.S. 101, as well as the four miles southbound between U.S. 101 and Getty Center Drive normally services 50,000 plus cars each weekend. The closure is necessary so construction crews can drop and dismantle the existing bridge, in an area known as the Sepulveda pass, onto the 405, before rebuilding a wider bridge before Monday morning traffic starts.

Many are predicating epic gridlock on one of the most traveled sections of the freeway with Angeleinos dubbing it “Carmageddon.” The stretch connects the highly populated San Fernando Valley with the also densely-populated West Los Angeles area. Government officials are warning people to stay out of the area and advising locals to stay home. Congestion is expected to spill out to nearby freeways for several miles around.

Discounts aren’t just for locals either:

  • AAA’s website is giving locals and visitors to Los Angeles County advice on how to best enjoy the upcoming weekend
  • Wednesday morning JetBlue Airlines’ website offered Saturday flyovers of Carmageddon. For $4 each way quick-acting customers will fly between Burbank and Long Beach observing the mayhem and carnage from the comfort of the sky. An upgrade for early boarding and seats with more leg room was available for $1 more, for a grand total of $10 round trip. But just like LA freeways JetBlue’s website was “experiencing technical difficulties” by noon (likely caused by increased traffic). Before SoCal rush hour began the webpage had a message saying the flights were sold out.
  • Adventure Helicopter Tours is offering 45-minute flights over the chaos for $400 per couple
  • Executive HeliShares is offering “air taxi” services for the commoners so they can avoid congestion on nearby freeways

Local government is offering free transportation alternatives to ease congestion during Carmeggddon weekend:

  • Metro will add an additional 61 buses for Saturday and Sunday travel on eight major bus lines. Sixteen additional buses will be ready to service late-night and owl services in the affected area. Also fees on the Metro Orange Line and the Red/Purple Line subway will be waived this weekend.
  • Additional police, fire fighters and paramedics will be working this weekend to respond to the inevitable freeway accidents

Public service announcements are encouraging people to visit the Metro website, or call 511 to check road conditions before going out. And remember staying home and grilling with friends and family is always an alternative to being stuck in Carmageddon. We ‘ll recap the events of the weekend Monday to see if the mass hysteria over the 405 closure lived up to the hype. In the meantime share with us your plans for the weekend in the comments below.