The end is in sight for the 405 improvements project.
Good news from the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which has successfully navigated through some considerable obstacles during construction of a 10-mile northbound HOV lane between the 10 and 101 freeways. Project managers now report that the project is officially 85 percent complete, with major milestones planned before the end of the year.
The project that brought the public the “Carmageddon I and II” mega-closures in 2011 and 2012, respectively, was originally scheduled to open in May of this year. However, retaining wall problems, utility relocations, legal challenges, problems with procuring needed rights-of-way and efforts to avoid a county storm drain, among others, have required extensive mitigation efforts. The project team continues to open parts of the project as soon as they are ready and safe for public use — but the entire project won’t be done until the middle of next year.
The Design-Build delivery method used to build the I-405 improvements has allowed design and construction to occur simultaneously, shaving up to seven years off the construction schedule compared to traditional Design-Bid-Build methods, but even still the unavoidable project delays and cost increases have taken a toll on public patience. U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman recently queried the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the federally funded project and its delays, asking how the project could be completed as quickly as possible.
Looking East, Mulholland Bridge reduced to one lane in each direction. Photo: Gary Leonard
The fun never ends with the 405 improvements project, where work crews are in the full thrust of construction virtually everywhere in the 10-mile project area. Witness the latest public warning on potential congestion, this time on the Mulholland Drive Bridge in Los Angeles. It now has one lane in each direction following last month’s demolition of the south side of the bridge during “Carmageddon” weekend.
The lane reduction on Mulholland Drive will further slow access in the area already impacted by reduced lanes on nearby Skirball Center Drive Bridge, which provides access to the 405. Workers are busy rebuilding half of that bridge now.
It may take a few weeks for traffic to adjust to the new reductions, but the project team has observed a normalization of traffic (i.e., cars choosing other routes) at the Sunset and Skirball bridges when their lanes were first reduced. It is expected that Mulholland Bridge will also follow that pattern.
So, you commuters who intentionally bypass Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 driving through the canyon passes and on Mulholland Drive to get to work, here’s a wake-up call: Congestion ahead. Let the locals use the road. Plan ahead and pick another route.
Here are a few images from photographer Gary Leonard’s pictorial on how the south half of the Mulholland Bridge came down the weekend of July 15 to 17. Above is a shot showing what the bridge looked like last Friday afternoon.
The demolition began the evening of Friday, July 15, when work crews began closing freeway on- and off-ramps.
Two very large light plants and some 12 regular light plants turn night into day in the area surrounding the Mulholland Bridge.
It’s only fitting that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who made the ‘Carmageddon’ tag a household word for the temporary closure of the 405 freeway, should have the last word on the car-free phenomenon and near-miracle of last weekend.
And the last word is a good one. Check out the nicely produced video that follows the Supervisor, alongside Mike Barbour, who manages Metro’s I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvement Project, from the closure of the first off-ramp to the grand finale of the notorious traffic taking back the road. Makes you yearn for next year, some say, when the freeway gives the canyon — and Los Angeles, for that matter, — another breather.
There are many more stats and factoids on the first half of the Mulholland Bridge demolition in this latest edition of Zev’s Weekly Web Flash. Check it out.
The answer, according to Metro officials, is that it was a mixed bag — due, in part, to reduced travel in the region. The evidence suggests that people didn’t just stop driving, they stopped going anywhere for good chunks of the weekend.
Metro offered free service on the Orange Line busway, the Red and Purple Line subway and 26 other bus lines. The agency also increased service on a number of bus lines to help people travel between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside.
Metro officials believe ridership was up about 15 to 20 percent on the Orange Line busway, the Red Line subway and the Green Line. On the other hand, bus ridership looks like it was up slightly on some lines and down slightly on others.
One reason that it’s hard to calculate ridership for this weekend is that there was a lot of free service, meaning the agency don’t have fare media data they normally would have to help count passengers on buses and trains.
Metro officials also observed that it appeared more people than usual in the Valley were traveling with luggage, suggesting that they were using Metro Rail to travel to LAX, given that the 405 was closed. The Galaxy-Real Madrid soccer match at the Coliseum on Saturday also looked to draw extra riders on the Red Line and the 754 Vermont bus.
Officials announce the 405 reopening at a news conference Sunday morning. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.
With work on tearing down the southern half of the Mulholland Drive Bridge complete, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Sunday that the 405 freeway over the Sepulveda Pass will begin reopening about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, more than 17 hours before the scheduled reopening at 5 a.m. Monday.
“Not enough is said about the people of Los Angeles when they come together and decide they have to work together to make something work,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thanking area residents for staying off local roads and preventing the massive traffic jam some feared would result from the 405 closure this weekend.
“Thank you to the people of this area who have put up with and will continue to put up with this construction project for a couple more years,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the construction site. “They have been very patient with us and we thank them and we do not take their patience for granted.”
Metro will continue to offer free service on the Red and Purple line subways, the Orange Line busway and 25 other bus lines for the remainder of Sunday.
Work on the bridge as of 8 a.m. Sunday. The photo was taken by the camera Metro is using to make a time-lapse video of the demolition work. Photo by Metro.
Here is the latest progress report on work on the Mulholland Drive Bridge over the 405:
•The southern half of the bridge has been demolished.
•Workers continue to thoroughly clean the edge of the remaining part of the bridge.
•All demolition material and dirt has been removed from the roadway surface
•Street sweeping, freeway surface cleanup and minor repairs will begin this morning.
•Kiewit, the contractor, is pleased with the progress.
In response to media queries about the possibility of the 405 reopening earlier than its scheduled reopening of 5 a.m. Monday, the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has issued this statement:
“Yes, it looks like freeway is going to open early. However, the debris still needs to be cleaned and there still needs to be an inspection to see if any other work needs to be done on the highway. Things are still fluid, and we will have a better sense of the opening time closer to Mayor’s presser at 11 a.m.”
The mayor and other officials are holding a news conference at 11 a.m at 10:30 a.m.