5:58am

Wed September 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Ahead Of Carmageddon II, Angelenos Fear Traffic Jams In ... The Sky?

This weekend, a 10-mile stretch of heavily trafficked Interstate 405 in Los Angeles will be shut down for two days to demolish part of the Mulholland Drive bridge. Officials and residents are hoping for a repeat performance of a similar closure last year — known as Carmageddon — when much-hyped traffic woes never materialized.

"Carmageddon, Schmarmaggedon," Zev Yaroslavky, a Los Angeles County supervisor and board member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority, declared last year after the closures went off with a hitch — and the road opened 17 hours ahead of schedule.

This year, though, there's another concern: preventing the swarms of helicopters that flew overhead during last year's demolition work.

The Los Angeles Times' L.A. Now blog notes that residents of neighborhoods near the construction area are asking helicopter operators to respect their privacy by not flying too low during the road closure.

Sherman Oaks board director Bob Anderson demanded that those flying overhead "stop having wine and cheese parties on helicopters to watch the bridge come down."

The outpouring of complaints over media and tour operators flying overhead during last year's closure prompted talk of establishing regulations governing flight paths and minimum heights, but those plans have stalled.

Staying in your own neighborhood is a mantra across the sprawling metropolis. As was the case last year, Los Angeles officials are urging people to eat, shop and play locally, offering discounts and special offers. As well, artists have banded together to present a number of events in places accessible without travel by freeway, dubbed Artmageddon.

The closures begin Friday at 7 p.m. local time and end at 5 a.m. on Monday. During those hours, workers will demolish the north side of the Mulholland Drive bridge.

But public officials have warned the public not to be complacent — there's 30 percent more work to be done than this year and they predict it will take the entire scheduled closure to complete the job.

Carmageddon II is part of a massive project to widen the freeway and improve ramps and bridges, including making them wider and more seismically sound, and this weekend's closure is expected to affect nearly 500,000 drivers who travel this stretch of the 405 on weekends, public officials said.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.