For eager end-of-world watchers, Carmageddon I last summer was a total letdown. We did a little tour of the projected problem streets that famous Saturday, and found they were emptier than ever. Turns out everyone either stayed home or spent the weekend strolling around their neighborhood, for an almost sickeningly happy/communal day of waving at neighbors and noticing little things like the sweet peas blooming next door. (Barf. So... Brooklyn.) And on Sunday, construction ended earlier than expected, around noon. Wah wah.
But come September 29 and 30, we may have another shot at apocalyptic traffic mayhem:
That's when the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to roll out Carmageddon II, an exact repeat of the 405 closure last July 16 and 17.
Same 53-hour period, same 10-mile shutdown of the busiest freeway in the world, says Metro:
On Friday, September 28, ramps along the 10-mile closure area will begin to be shut down as early as 7 p.m., and closure of individual freeway lanes will begin at 10 p.m. to ensure full freeway closure by midnight. The closure is scheduled to continue until 5 a.m. Monday morning, Oct. 1. Ramps and connectors will be reopened by 6 a.m. During this closure, the Mulholland Bridge, I-405 freeway and access ramps will be closed.
Metro and City Hall officials are in a bit of a pickle: They were so dramatic last time around, to such anticlimactic effect, that anything they say now won't be taken seriously. Some might call it crying wolf -- and the media did its fair share of howling, too.
When the first run of Carmageddon was so overplayed, how can we be expected to line up for the sequel?
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"We're going to be battling public complacency this time," says Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. "People think it was such a breeze that this time they can just go about their business as usual."
But think again, O jaded ones! Aside from your complacency, there's one big reason why Carmageddon's comeback could out-scary the original:
According to Sotero, construction crews demolishing the northern side of the Mulholland Bridge (they did the southern side last summer) will have "twice as much" work to do in the same amount of time, seeing as that side has two bridge columns instead of one.
In July, crews finished the 53-hour shift with 17 hours to spare. But do the math -- twice as much work, not twice as much time. Will the sun rise over a chaotic sea of gridlock come Monday morning, as construction crews go deaf to the blare of a thousand horns?
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Now we know why Metro announced last week that the hours for all L.A. subway lines will be extended until 2 a.m.! They were buttering us up for this -- an underestimated Spiderman remake of a traffic blockbuster.
The mayor reminds us in a statement how awesome the 405 closure was last year, when we all did what we were told:
"Last year, we proved that Angelenos far and wide could rise to the occasion and cooperate with authorities to turn Carmageddon into 'Carmaheaven' free of apocalyptic traffic congestion. It was truly one of L.A.'s finest moments. We are again calling on the public to do its civic duty. Do not become complacent. Rather, let's join together to enjoy another car-light or car-free weekend with family and friends Let's all help get this critical job done safely and without incident."