‘Carmageddon’ Reduces Traffic Instead of Worsening It

As far as early June, media reports went viral about the upcoming closure of the I-405 freeway in Los Angeles, California due to construction of a new carpool lane.

Only in Hollywood would such an announcement be the equivalent to announcing the coming of a real-life Apocalypse, terming the days to come ‘Carmageddon’. Everyone from major news networks, citizens, to celebrities – who all of a sudden became unofficial spokespeople for the city of L.A. and its traffic control – were spreading the message fast: stay away from the freeway on July 16 and 17 to avoid all the traffic. It was speculated that closing off the major freeway would result in nightmare gridlock for drivers, especially any travelers headed to LAX airport.

The warnings were so abundant and persuasive that it truly began to feel like two days of impending doom were about befall the City of Angels.

“I am definitely not leaving my house on the 16th and 17th of July with the 405 being closed!” reality star Kourtney Kardashian Tweeted on July 6. “Avoid the area that weekend!”

So, what happened? Did Hollywood experience one of its darkest days after all? According to many brave-hearted citizens – not really!

Alternate route, Pacific Coast Highway on July 16, 2011

I-405 S, two exits past closure on July 16, 2011

Commuter Manjari Bhakta, 29, said because the hyper-coverage of the freeway closure created vivid nightmares of traffic chaos, most people just stayed put at home. The result: easy, breezy cruising.

“There was no traffic whatsoever!” she said.”It was great! They should do this more often.”

Besides the traffic-free driving those on the road experienced on July 16 and 17, the city was able finish the project almost 17 hours ahead of schedule and opened up the freeway on Sunday, July 18. The next phase of the reconstruction project is said to begin next summer.


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