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I-405's Closure Will Be A 'Nightmare' For L.A. Drivers


Los Angeles is bracing for its own kind of gridlock this weekend. Part of a major interstate highway is shutting down for construction. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports that the temporary closure is causing panic in car-loving L.A.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Unidentified Man: They're calling this Carmageddon.


DEL BARCO: Yes, Carmageddon, a name taken from a graphically violent video game inspired by the cult movie "Death Race 2000." L.A. County supervisor Zev Yarovsavsky coined the term for what essentially will be a widening of the road.

ZEV YAROVSAVSKY: The best alternative route is to totally avoid the 405 area, completely avoid it, don't come anywhere near it, don't even think about coming to it, stay the heck out of here.

DEL BARCO: Even L.A.'s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is worried.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOA: It will be an absolute nightmare.

DEL BARCO: For weeks now, electronic billboards have been warning drivers of impending doom. If that wasn't enough, officials have asked Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga to tweet about the shutdown.

ERIC ESTRADA: Hola, soy Eric Estrada.

DEL BARCO: The star of the old TV show "CHiPs" is delivering the message in Spanish and in English.

ESTRADA: Hi. I'm Eric Estrada, and I'm here with real motorcycle police officers. Plan ahead, avoid the area, or just stay home.

DEL BARCO: Dalia Franco and her fiance Moche Shmuel say this was not part of the plans they made more than a year ago.

DALIA FRANCO: My mom told us...


FRANCO: ...over dinner, don't freak out, I have news to tell you: The 405 will be closed the weekend of our wedding.

SHMUEL: And we freaked out.

FRANCO: And then we freaked out.


SHMUEL: And then we notified our guests and tried to find any solution to this Carmageddon.

FRANCO: We even thought about postponing the wedding.

DEL BARCO: While some businesses worry about losing customers this weekend, others see it as an opportunity.

KIM CURRY: We have ended up serving as a complete one stop shop hub, you're official 405 survival guide.

DEL BARCO: Santa Monica residents Anastasia Roark, Kim Curry and two friends created T-shirts, a website, Facebook and Twitter page for

CURRY: We've had listings for everything from discount helicopter rides to discounted tattoos, doggie grooming, yoga specials, you name it.

DEL BARCO: also posted a YouTube video starring cartoon bears.

CURRY: It will be mayhem. You might as well stay home.

LOUISE KELLY: But how will I get to the places I need to be?

CURRY: You won't.

LOUISE KELLY: I have a Toyota Prius.

CURRY: Carmageddon doesn't care about your Prius.

LOUISE KELLY: But I have an audition in Burbank.

CURRY: I don't care. You need to chill out. You have legs and although they are short, you can walk around.

DEL BARCO: But If L.A. residents do have to drive this weekend anywhere near the 405, stress release specialist Sharon Jakubecy has some tips for staying calm.

SHARON JAKUBECY: Please do not white knuckle the steering wheel.

DEL BARCO: Sit up straight, she says, and breathe.

JAKUBECY: It's called the whispered ah.


DEL BARCO: Try humming, singing, or fluttering your lips.

JAKUBECY: It actually slows your breath rate.


JAKUBECY: And you can't help but laugh.

DEL BARCO: Because a sense of humor is one of the best things to have in your Carmageddon survival kit. Mandalit del Barco...


DEL BARCO: ...NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition,, and