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Carmageddon

'Rampture' Looms: Three-Month Closure of Wilshire Ramps to 405 Freeway Will Mean 'Carmageddon' for L.A. (Really This Time)

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Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM
click to enlarge The Wilshire Boulevard on- and off-ramps to the 405, post-Rampture. - METRO
  • Metro
  • The Wilshire Boulevard on- and off-ramps to the 405, post-Rampture.

L.A. officials earned the respect and admiration of many far-off governments with the wildly successful PR campaign that was Carmageddon -- so named by crafty L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. And the Supe is back at bat with a stern warning for the coming fall...

... though an LA Curbed real-estate blogger beat him to the punchy title this time.

Re-construction of the Wilshire Boulevard on- and off-ramps, set to begin in October or November, is part of the same 405 carpool lane project that necessitated the July 16 and 17 demolition of the Mulholland Bridge. (Or not.) "Carmageddon," as we all loved to call it, was hyped as hell and over in a bandaid-rip of a slow summer weekend. But the Rampture, no matter how much we crowd-source and meme and drink-special it up, can't possibly avoid becoming the apocalyptic jam that the original Carmageddon was falsely predicted to be. Here's why:

click to enlarge No, but for real. - UCLA TODAY
  • UCLA Today
  • No, but for real.

1. Like all flash-in-the-pan media storms, the announcement of "traffic mayhem in Los Angeles" can only explode with the same ridiculous reach one time around. L.A. drivers are jaded to the topic, and wary of the false sense of panic they were duped into the first time.

We already dropped a $100-spot on Carmagaddon tees for the entire family, and we're even more sick of the Hitler "bunker scene" than we were before he ranted on L.A.'s most-hyped traffic event ever. (Case in point: The non-attention given to Carmageddon Junior last weekend. Given, it did go down on the Eastside, where no media truck dares to venture.)

2. Instead of two days, the Wilshire on- and off-ramps are expected to be shut down for up to three months. So it's not a "stay at home" or "walk!" or "take a Carmageddon vaycay" kind of situation. Instead, it's an everyday, working-class clog of all clogs in an area with no alternative routes. (Well, Sepulveda, but at rush hour, Sepulveda becomes its own skinny brand of parking lot.)

3. Speaking of that area -- in all our time in Los Angeles, we have never sat in worse traffic than Wilshire Boulevard traffic as it approaches the 405. Unless, of course, you count Santa Monica Boulevard traffic as it approaches the 405 -- which will likely double upon the Wilshire closures, as the Santa Monica on- and off-ramps are the nearest alternatives. Therefore, we can think of no worse on- or off-ramp for such a massive closure to occur.


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4. The Mulholland Bridge takedown was isolated in a rural part of town, where only rich Hills residents, news/photo hawks and the insatiably curious stopped by to rubberneck. (Oh, and the mayor, who showed up in a helicopter so noisy it inspired a bill in the House of Representatives.) These cutting-edge new 405 ramps, on the other hand, are slated as two fantastic loops, or "fly-over ramps which curve above the freeway," spiraling 30 feet over Wilshire. Let the slack-jawed clusterfuck begin.

In a sleek new PDF, Metro officials explain the dire need for new ramps at Wilshire, and admit the traffic damage will likely extend far beyond Westwood:

At both these locations, a mass of drivers struggle to reach a through-freeway lane or change lanes to reach the off-ramp exit. These maneuvers must occur within a short distance. The same challenge awaits drivers as they shift from the northbound I-405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Bl. The northbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Bl features the same chaos: the on-ramp traffic tries to merge on while off-ramp traffic merges off.

The reconstruction of the Wilshire Bl ramps and their connections with the I-405 freeway require a complex construction schedule to minimize the traffic effects at these heavily traveled interchanges. Although the reconstructed interchanges will produce some of the I-405 project's greatest traffic improvements, the multiple ramp closures will affect traffic flow for miles.

We'll update as we discover all the awful little ways this next stage of 405 construction will affect your daily commute, especially for the nearby UCLA community and bustling campus hospital. And do forgive us if our reportage isn't quite as giddy as the last time around.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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