Wallet? Check. Cellphone? Check. Car keys? Those can stay at home.
That's what Los Angeles officials hope Angelenos will opt to do during Carmageddon II, the 52-hour closure of of the San Diego (405) Freeway that began Friday night as a sequel to last year's roadblock. -- Live Blog: Carmageddon ll
The fear, however, is that with such a smooth run during Carmageddon I when the 405 was closed July 15-18, 2011, that residents won't heed warnings to stay away from the freeway this time around.
But Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman said "there's still a real threat of chaos here."
The 10-mile shutdown of the nation's busiest freeway, through the Sepulveda Pass between the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and Ventura (101) Freeway, is expected to affect about 500,000 motorists who regularly travel on the 405 during the weekends. The 405 reopens at 5 a.m. Monday.Carmageddon II, during which workers aim to complete demolition work on the Mulholland Bridge, is part of a $1 billion project to add a 10-mile car-pool lane along the northbound 405.
"There is no great alternative way to get from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley, so if you don't divert traffic or get people to just park their cars at home, there's a serious concern of causing major traffic on the rest of the regional system," Littman said.
But while officials are aiming for another
"Carmaheaven," the nickname given to Carmageddon I when freeways were barren because motorists were scared into staying away from the 405, that doesn't mean they expect people to be hermits.
With nearly 300 businesses, venues and tourist attractions offering up to 50 percent discounts and other special offers, Littman said "there are plenty of things to do short of chancing it."
David Moeller of Manhattan Beach, who regularly takes the 405 to Silver Lake for work, said he plans to "throw his keys on the floor and take my bike" this weekend.
Among the events he plans to hit, which may include some Carmageddon-themed house parties along the coast, is the "Car-Mageddon Part Deux 405 Pub Crawl."
The pub crawl is organized by UMETime, a hyper local, special offer Internet application that recently launched its mobile app. UMETime is slated to offer drink specials at a number of Santa Monica bars from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
"People are always looking for an excuse to have a good time and Carmageddon is as good of an excuse as any," Moeller said, laughing.
Littman agrees, adding that the "car-free weekend" is a great way to get to know Los Angeles in a different way whether on a bicycle, on foot or on the bus.
Public safety officials, however, warn residents not to get too out of hand during Carmageddon II.
California Highway Patrol Officer Saul Gomez recalled a flash mob of bicyclists who attempted to ride on the 405 during Carmageddon I. Many of them were cited and had their bicycles impounded, he said.
Officers don't plan to be as lenient.
"There will be zero tolerance for all violators who attempt to go on the freeway or attempt to make a 'YouTube Moment,"' he said "We know plenty of folks trying to get their 15 minutes of fame out there and want to use this construction site as a catalyst for that. But we strongly advise against it."
Not only is the construction site a dangerous
area to be around due to the heavy equipment, but the 10-mile stretch of freeway closed to public traffic will be used for construction crews trying to haul away debris or for emergency personnel access.
On Friday morning, Littman said the crew already had one scare when a man driving north on the 405 suddenly pulled into the construction site and ran down the dirt embankment.
Officials chased after the man and when they finally got a hold of him, he claimed he needed to use the Port-A-Potty, Littman said.
CHP officials said any violator who attempts to get on the prohibited portion of the 405 will be cited and/or sent to jail.
(c)2012 the Daily News (Los Angeles)
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