Officials plead with public to avoid 405/Sepulveda Pass area during full closure weekend of July 16-17

A news conference was held this morning at the Skirball Cultural Center about the upcoming full 405 freeway closure through the Sepulveda Pass from the evening of Friday, July 15, through the early morning of Monday, July 18, because of the partial demolition of the Mulholland Bridge.

Here are a few quick points made by elected and agency officials who spoke:

•Several elected officials used no uncertain terms to predict how bad traffic will be that weekend. “It will be an absolute nightmare,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who added that widening the 405 and adding a northbound carpool lane will improve the freeway for many future years. “There’s obvious long-term gain but there will be short-term pain.”

•County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (in the above photo), who has represented the area for 30-plus years, asked motorists to literally steer clear of the area. He added that there are no alternate routes in the immediate vicinity of the 405 that will work well — i.e. none of the obvious canyon roads linking the San Fernando Valley to the Westside. “I know every shortcut,” Yaroslavsky said. “Not one of them is going to work. They’re all going to be jammed.”

•All officials urged the public to plan ahead for the closure, cut discretionary car trips that weekend and/or stay home. Caltrans District 7 Director Michael Miles said that backups on other freeways could be felt far beyond the Valley and Westside.

•Metro will be offering free service on the subway that weekend and bulked up Orange Line and Metro Rail service. There will be more frequent buses running on several streets, including Ventura Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

Metrolink will also be offering more frequent service with nine additional trains on its Antelope Valley Line. That line services Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, an alternative to flying out of LAX. In addition, passengers can take any of Metrolink’s trains to Los Angeles Union Station and catch a Flyaway bus from there to LAX.

•As for the Flyaway bus, it will continue running buses from Van Nuys to LAX, but the buses will not take their regular route down the 405. They will instead be routed from the Valley through downtown L.A. and back west to LAX.

•Airport officials also reminded everyone that those hoping to catch a flight from LAX should remember that the 405 is scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m. on July 18. That means everyone planning on getting to the airport for early morning flights should plan for extra time getting there. The same applies for flights later in the evening on Friday, July 15, when ramps could start shutting down at 7 p.m. and some lanes at 10 p.m.

•LAPD Commander James Cansler said that there will be extra police stationed around the closure area to ensure that emergency services can still get personnel to emergencies in speedy fashion. In addition, he said that there would be a route over the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass for emergency services — vehicles will have a way to get around work on the Mulholland Bridge.

•The reason the freeway is being closed is that there was no safe way to take down half the Mulholland Bridge without impacting both south- and northbound lanes, said Michael Barbour, the project director of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. In order to take down half the bridge, the freeway will be covered with soil to prevent damage to the road.

For more information about the project — which is also widening bridges over the freeway, making seismic upgrades and improving on- and off-ramps — visit the project website.

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