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ABC7 Traffic Center

Carmageddon 2 was a 'resounding success' - officials

Monday, October 01, 2012

Instead of a traffic nightmare, officials are calling Carmageddon 2 a "resounding success." The 405 Freeway reopened several hours ahead of schedule after crews completed their demolition work on the Mulholland Drive Bridge.

"Everybody predicted the worst traffic, a nightmare, Armageddon-type nightmare. Neither the first time nor the second time did it happen," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during a news conference.

Drivers honked as they drove through the Sepulveda Pass. Northbound lanes began reopening around 8:45 p.m. Sunday, and the southbound lanes followed. The freeway was officially reopened by midnight.

The reopening of the busiest and most congested freeway in the U.S. came hours earlier than the 5 a.m. Monday deadline because repairs were not needed on the road.

"Since they didn't have to do any additional repairs, they were to quickly clean it, re-stripe it if necessary and get traffic going back through again," said Patrick Chandler of Caltrans.

The full freeway closure went into effect Friday night so that workers could demolish the north side of the Mulholland Bridge. The bridge deck and the columns were taken apart piece by piece.

"We certainly didn't open 17 hours early like last time. It took longer this time. Caltrans had a lot more work, the contractor had more work to do, but we'll take an early opening any day," said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.

The demolition is part of the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which adds a 10-mile northbound carpool lane. There will be other work in the future, and occasionally, lanes will close, but officials say no total freeway closure is anticipated.

Many drivers heeded warnings from officials to stay away from the area. For the most part, Carmageddon 2 went smoothly. There was a triathlon that went on as scheduled and caused some congestion on the west side. However, the event's promoters had a contract signed months ago.

At least seven citations were handed out Sunday for trespassing on the 405 Freeway during the closure. Some trespassers were even bold enough to send Eyewitness News pictures of their adventure.

Cindy Whitehead skateboarded down the empty freeway while her husband snapped pictures.

"I kind of went up to the side of the freeway and just went right on," Whitehead said.

Melly Lee and her friends also got onto the closed freeway to skateboard and take a few photos.

"The idea was that hey, we all live in L.A., we all have to come in, deal with the traffic and stuff, so while the freeway is wide open, we wanted to ... have this real sense of freedom," she said.

See photos of the trespassers and the demolition of the Mulholland Drive Bridge.

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