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Carmageddon Countdown: FAQ (Along With All Your Not-So-Frequently Asked, But Equally Burning, Questions)

We've spent a lot of time joking about Carmageddon -- meming it, crowd-sourcing it, naming drinks after it, etc.

Admittedly, though, beneath the stupid hype, which has reached quite irritating proportions, there are some facts surrounding the 53-hour closure of the 405 freeway that we'd all be better off knowing, in the end. Yes, it's just one weekend, but it's a weekend we have to live through. Here's how -- because the wait time on L.A. Metro's customer-relations line is completely absurd right now.

Q: Where, and at what time, does the closure begin?

A: All on-ramps to the northbound 405 between the 10 and the 101, and southbound between the 101 and Getty Center Drive, will begin closing at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 15. They will all be closed by 10 p.m., at which time lanes will begin closing. Construction starts at 12 a.m.

As far as when, exactly, each on-ramp is closing, Caltrans spokeswoman Judy Gish says there's no specific plan available yet, so "people should really be planning to not take any of those ramps after 7." The Mulholland Bridge will also be closed, during those same hours.

Q: When will the 405 reopen? What if it doesn't?

A: By 6 a.m. on Monday morning, July 18, all lanes will be reopened to the public. If not, the construction company will be paying the city $6,000 for every 10 minutes they're late -- so the likelihood of that is very low. Plus, if your boss wants to know why you're late, "Carmageddon" is kind of the best excuse we can think of.

Q: What streets should I avoid?

A: That's the million-dollar question here -- and nobody will really know until construction is underway -- but many have taken their best guess. Metro gives the most obvious answer, for both directions: Exit the 405 on the 10 to the 101, or vice versa, then get back on the 405.

But, unless all this Carmageddon fear-mongering works its magic, the 10 and the 101 will likely be in states of complete gridlock all weekend. So we move to the surface streets: Metro officials are advising that only those who absolutely need to use Sepulveda Boulevard, which runs alongside the 405, take that route. (Hitler agrees.)

Pacific Coast Highway, which will be completely reopened for the occasion, is likely to be second most-crowded, after Sepulveda. From there, we get into the canyon roads, which L.A.'s rural folk would strongly advise you not to take, but which will probably be your best bet. (Unless everyone takes our advice. Sigh. Conundrums!) From east to west, we have Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Coldwater Canyon Boulevard, Beverly Glen, and Topanga Canyon Boulevard. The latter is the most gorgeous, if you care.

Q: Where can I get up-to-the-minute traffic information?

A: A GPS app called Waze, partnered with news station ABC7, is encouraging people with smart phones to use their service -- it'll show you which roadways are clogged and allow you to attach/view notes and photos at specific locations.

On the radio, KNX news radio (at AM 1070) is always very reliable. On television, if you have TimeWarner, it'll be airing "real time traffic maps, travel times, live anchor updates, alternative route information, live freeway video and interactive reports with the California Highway Patrol" at all hours of the day and night on Channel 101.

Q: Which bus and subway lines can I take for free?

A: For reasons unkown, L.A. Metro has only made certain bus and rail lines free this weekend, in the most complicated pattern we can imagine. So we're just going to have to direct you to their website for this one.

Q: Will the city turn to anarchy, allowing me to run around naked and participate in flash mobs and the like?

 

Carmageddon Countdown: FAQ (Along With All Your Not-So-Frequently Asked, But Equally Burning, Questions)
Car-mageddon.com

Q: Will the city turn to anarchy, allowing me to run around naked and participate in flash mobs and the like?

A: While we (not-so)-secretly endorse that kind of behavior, the extra 1,000 officers from various law-enforcement agencies expected to be roaming the area surrounding the closure probably won't be so tolerant.

The LAPD has already warned a group of skateboarders and cyclists planning to descend upon the empty 405 cement that they will be punished accordingly. Take your chances if you wish, but -- as much as we'd like it to turn into one big tailgate party -- we're quite sure the traffic mayhem will only mean a heightened security presence, all around.

Q: How close can I get to the construction on foot? (To be nosy, take photos, bond with hobos, etc.)

A: Great question. Meaning, no one will answer it for us. We recommend you either dress as a construction worker, splurge on a helicopter ride or try to look all official and pretend you're media. (Hey, what's the end of the world without a little adventure!)

Badass LA Weekly photographer Ted Soqui says the main photo event will be the demolition of Mulholland Bridge on Saturday around 1:30 p.m. -- and that if you wear a legit-looking yellow workman's vest, and "as long as you don't look like some wackjob," you'll probably be able to join the pack of real-live news media. Or, if you're feeling shy, he reckons you can just park in the overflow parking lot about 50 yards north of the bridge, then inch as close as you can until someone barks at you.

Q: Is there going to be an awesome explosion when they get rid of Mulholland Bridge?

A: Nope. Instead, it'll be the most anticlimactic scene in the history of Armageddons, with jackhammers chipping away at the bridge for about 15 hours. That's because Metro and Caltrans higher-ups were worried the shockwaves from an explosion would blow out the windows of nearby homes. (And you know what kind of homes are nearby: Hella nice ones.)

"They wanted to give the media something to photograph," says Soqui. "But it's going to be like watching paint dry." He says the Hollywood "special-effects community" was originally going to "install showers of sparks" to make for better photographs (perhaps to appease the public into thinking this was all worth it, which it totally isn't), but that fell through at the last minute. Bummer.

Q: What about the roadway itself? What will happen if I try to run onto it?

A: Again, nobody official will dignify this question with an answer, but Soqui, who has a lot of experience snooping where he's not supposed to snoop, says he thinks the LAPD is "going to take a zero-tolerance stance" on anyone trying to cause trouble this weekend. He says he thinks freeway-runners might be treated the same as a "streaker at a soccer game" -- via the surround-and-tackle method. Plus, much of the freeway will be fenced off and inaccessible. Sorry, guys. Good thing National Nude Day is today, and not tomorrow!

Q: Who do I have to blame for the insufferable mash of the words "Car" and "Armageddon"?

A: That would be L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, or some bright young intern. Yaroslavsky repeated the word on KNX news radio, we printed it in a post that morning, and the rest is history. If you'd prefer, you can switch to one of Tom Hanks' Tweeted alternatives: Gas-zilla, 405-enstein, or Grid-lock-apalooza. Otherwise, we can't really help you there. Once the thing gained SEO power, there was no stopping it.

Any other questions, please ask below. We're literally overflowing with Carmageddon knowledge, not really by choice, and could use someplace to dump it. (On that note, stay tuned tomorrow for the best, and most absurd, discounts/publicity stunts across L.A., via tomorrow's final post in the Carmageddon countdown.)

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@simone_electra

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swilson@laweekly.com

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