Are you ready for "Carmageddon"?
That's the term being given to the temporary 10-mile closure of Interstate 405, a massive north-south route connecting the center of Los Angeles to several of its large, densely populated suburbs. Nearly 500,000 cars travel the highway every weekend — and officials are expecting apocalyptic delays on the weekend of July 16, with even Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa urging people to stay far, far away.
“If you think the 405 is gridlocked during the week, you haven’t seen anything yet,” he told the New York Times last week. “My message is to stay home. Or go on vacation. Walk. Go on a bike. But do not get in your car and go anywhere near the West Side. It’s going to be a mess.”
The $1 billion project, expected to be completed in 2013, will widen the highway and add an additional carpool lane.
To mark the occasion, Sirius XM is launching its very own "Carmageddon Radio" station for 55 hours — just a bit longer than the length of time the interstate will be closed. Instead of soothing music to calm your nerves, however, this one will simply remind you why you should have stayed home.
“Carmageddon Radio will keep drivers informed about delays and incidents in the L.A. metro area, including road speed and flow information, due to the demolition and reconstruction of the Mulholland Drive Bridge,” Sirius XM said in its news release on Wednesday.
While the closure is a hassle for those on the road, Los Angeles officials managing the region's mass transit system are hopeful that it will encourage people to consider trains and buses as an alternative. "Metro is offering the public free rides on the Metro Red Line and Purple Line and that's really an effort to get people to try transit and to avoid driving during the weekend of the closure," said Dave Sotero of the MTA to ABC 7.
According to HuffPo, an additional 26 metro bus lines will also be free to the public during the shutdown.
The Los Angeles Police Department has also taken the unusual move of recruiting celebrities with large Twitter followings to help spread the word. On June 29, officials contacted representatives for Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Kim Kardashian and William Shatner. That group has close to 30 million followers between them.
Kutcher offered to help, but with a catch: ”LAPD askd me 2tweet: 405 fwy btwn 10 & 101 will b closed July 16-17. In xchange I would like a free pass on that stoplight tickt IT WAS YELLOW.”
To find out how you can avoid becoming trapped in what's likely to be a miserable weekend for many, hit the official Countdown to Closure website.
Or, seriously, just stay home. And while you're at it, check out this video about gridlock anxiety.
MNN homepage photo: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News