Transit to rescue city from ‘Carmageddon’

Posted on July 14, 2011 by Nicole Schlosser

An evil-sounding title. A number, 405, is striking the populace of a major city with crippling fear. A desolate road will be eerily deserted. A bridge will blow up.

Is Michael Bay shooting the latest craptastic Hollywood action/horror/thriller box office hit, starring Shia LeBeouf? Nope.

The unthinkable is about to happen this weekend here in Los Angeles, though. Ten miles of the I-405 freeway, a major artery in the northern part of the city, will be closed for the demolition of one half of the Mulholland Bridge to widen the stretch between the 101 and the 10 freeways, replacing bridges at Skirball Drive and Sunset Boulevard, and replacing water mains and gas lines.

This is all in an effort, ironically, to reduce congestion. Not everyone agrees, though, that that will be the result of this project.

The shutdown is taking place from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday through 5:00 a.m. Monday morning. However, you would think, based on all the media frenzy, that Angelenos are doomed with the fate of never being able to drive anywhere ever again. And businesses are finding clever ways of cashing in, including one restaurant that is putting special items that cost $4.05 on its menu, and JetBlue’s $4.00 sale on flights going through nearby Burbank and Long Beach airports, smartly steering travelers away from Los Angeles International Airport.

Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s going to be bad news traffic-wise for anyone brave or crazy enough to get on the 405 or any of the adjoining freeways. I certainly don’t plan to. Lucky me, I don’t have to get to work or anywhere else this weekend, and I live right near a Metro bus stop if I change my mind.

For those less fortunate, though, Los Angeles Metro and Metrolink are enhancing their service throughout the area.

Metro is adding 100 buses and 32 rail cars on the bus and rail lines serving the area which will be impacted by the I-405 closure.

Metrolink stepped up its regularly-scheduled weekend service with seven round-trips on the Ventura County Line and nine additional trips on the Antelope Valley Line, and began offering a $10 Weekend Pass on July 1, good for unlimited rides on Metrolink trains from Friday night at 7p.m. through Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.

Additionally, Amtrak is offering a 50 percent discount on fares for all its Pacific Surfliner trains to those traveling in the affected area.

Hopefully, people will take advantage of these offers, and first-timers to transit will have good experiences and turn into supporters of public transportation. When presented with horrific gridlock, transit can hopefully come to the rescue.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Bus operators and cyclists, keeping an eye on each other" here.

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