Calvin Aubrey with California Highway Patrol says last year’s San Diego (405) Freeway closure “went great because the public paid attention,” and stayed off the roads. As the second installment of Carmageddon approaches, Caltrans and law enforcement officials are ramping up warnings for Angelenos not to venture out behind the wheel. Angie Crouch reports from the Sepulveda Pass for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2012.
As construction crews in the Sepulveda Pass make their final preparations for Carmageddon II, dire warnings were issued on Tuesday from Caltrans officials days ahead of the 10-mile, weekend-long closure of the San Diego (405) Freeway.
"We’re looking at backups all the way up to Kern County if people don’t stay away," said Mike Miles, with Caltrans.
Miles' warning echoes months of pleas by traffic officials and law enforcement asking Angelenos to stay off the road while crews complete reconstruction of the Mulholland Drive Bridge over one of the nation’s busiest freeways.
"Carmageddon 1 went great because the public paid attention," said Calvin Aubrey with California Highway Patrol (CHP), referencing last summer’s freeway shutdown that went off without a hitch.
Transportation officials are worried drivers won’t heed this year’s warning because the last closure went so well.
During last year’s closure, freeway traffic dropped 67 percent, Caltrans reported, adding that a repeat is vital. Otherwise, alternate routes will be jammed.
"Something like a fire or traffic collision on another artery in the area that could create gridlock and people could find themselves stuck in their cars for hours," Aubrey said.
If Angelenos must venture out, officials advise bringing food, water and medicine just in case.
There is little chance the freeway will open early like it did last year because crews will have to complete about 30 percent more work in the same amount of time.
"We’ve worked with the contractor and looked at his schedule and we are 100 percent sure Carmageddon II is going to go off just as well as it did the first time if we have the cooperation of the public," Miles said.
Extra Caltrans staffers will watch over the freeways via a transportation management center in Eagle Rock.
Live traffic cameras are trained on all Southland freeways, and motorists can take a peek at road conditions using the mobile app Quick Map, said Lauren Wonder with Caltrans.
Currently, the app is only available on Android, but iPhone users can see the same live traffic feed by visiting http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.