L.A. "Carmageddon" that never was nears early end
By Steve Gorman and Jason Kandel
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A key Los Angeles freeway closed for construction work will reopen about 16 hours ahead of schedule on Sunday, bringing an early end to a much-hyped "Carmageddon" traffic crisis that never materialized, officials said.
"Mission accomplished," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proclaimed at a late-morning news conference, saying the early reopening would save about $400,000 in salary and other costs associated with the project.
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, widely credited with popularizing the phrase "Carmageddon," said a public campaign urging motorists to stay off the roads in the region surrounding the closure also was a resounding success.
"Two-thirds of the people who normally drive the freeways of this area were not on the freeways this weekend ... and everybody can live to talk about it," he told reporters.
A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 that ranks as the most heavily traveled section of freeway in the United States was shut down on Friday night to allow for demolition of half a bridge as part of a $1 billion freeway widening project.
The unprecedented closure originally was scheduled to last until about 6 a.m. local time on Monday, a schedule that likely would have wreaked havoc on much of the city's morning commute.
But Villaraigosa said demolition work was completed early and that a gradual reopening of the I-405, starting with ramps and connector roads, would begin at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Some southbound lanes were reopened to traffic shortly before noon, and the mayor said he expected the freeway to be fully back in operation by 3 p.m. Continued...