During the last weekend in September, the San Diego Freeway (the 405) will be closed in order to complete the demolition of what remains of the Mulholland Bridge. This construction-filled weekend is the next step in the Sepulveda Pass Improvement Project, as the freeway will be widened to accommodate high occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes. Already being dubbed “Carmageddon II” due to the similar full closure occurring last July, the 10-mile stretch of the 405 (starting from the 101 junction in the north to the juncture with the 10 in the south) will begin closing on-ramps starting at 7pm on Friday the 28th, with the portion of the freeway completely cleared by midnight. The entire operation is projected to take 53 hours, with ramps and connectors staring to open again at 6am on October 1. Despite last year’s closure being completed 17 hours ahead of schedule, this year’s demolition team must remove two bridge columns instead (one column was removed last year).
Both Metro and Caltrans are not expecting the same phenomenon which occurred last year, in which Angelenos, fearful of exacerbated congestion from the freeway closure, mostly kept a safe distance away from their cars. This social mindset led to unusually light traffic freely flowing throughout the city for the entire weekend. In fact, research found that motorized vehicle traffic decreased in some areas by more than 70 percent, compared to a typical summer weekend. Furthermore, public transit ridership was up 10 to 50 percent citywide.
Mayor Villaraigosa and other municipal administrators are, much like last year, encouraging the general public to spend the weekend in their respective neighborhoods, avoiding highly-traveled streets, and to eat and play locally. However, due to public awareness of last year’s relatively gridlock-free weekend, experts believe more traffic will occur on proposed detour routes and nearby streets compared to last year.
Ride Safe and Be Careful
Because of the closure, we can anticipate extra congestion on primary streets throughout the area contained by the 101-110-10-405. With many of these drivers used to driving at faster speeds, they may be more agitated and aggressive, not being as aware of others as when they are normally on city streets - particularly near on/off-ramps. Because of this potential increase in public peril, both pedestrians and cyclists should avoid walking/biking near any primary detour routes, as well as all on/off ramps. If you do venture out on your bicycle during the weekend, be sure to take extra caution when not riding on a designated bike path, especially streets currently without any bikeways. Although last year’s closure led to the story of bicylists beating a plane from Burbank to Long Beach, it would most likely behoove cyclists this go-around to stay closer to home and away from conceivable car chaos.
Here are some organized rides happening during the weekend that, if near your neighborhood, may prove to be entertainment whilst avoiding vehicular chaos:
- Covina Cycle Club: Sept 29 at 7 and 8am (48 and 29miles);
- Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange: Sept 30 at 10am (family friendly);
- Different Spokes Southern California: Sept 30 at 8am (51miles);
- Los Angeles Wheelmen: Sept 30 at 830am (34, 56, 65 miles);
- Marina Del Ray Cycle Club: Sept 30 at 8am (61miles);
- Midnight Ridazz: Sept 28 at 8pm;
- Palos Verdes Bike Club: Sept 30 at 730am (61miles);
- Pasadena Athletic Association Cycling Club: Sept 29 & 30 at 8am (32-55miles);
- San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club: Sept 29& 30 at 8am (25,41, 57,78, 28 miles);
- West LA Cycle Club: Sept 30 at 10am (25miles).
Closures will actually begin this weekend. The 405 southbound lanes from the 101 to the Getty will be shutting down at 11pm on Saturday September 8, and re-opening 9am Sunday, September 9. The Mulholland Bridge will be closed Friday, September 14 at 10pm through 8am on Sunday, September 16. That same weekend, the 405 northbound lanes from the Getty to the Ventura off-ramp will close from Saturday, September 15 at 11pm to 9am on Sunday, September 16.