A lane on the northbound 405 Freeway reopened ahead of the holiday weekend Friday as part of the improvement project in West LA through the Sepulveda Pass, but crews had to close three lanes in the area just minutes later after a tanker crash and fuel spill.
Road crews picked up construction cones between the 10 Freeway and Santa Monica Boulevard Friday morning, opening the 1.7-mile stretch of road at 5:25 a.m.
Unfortunately for early morning commuters, a tanker truck crash and diesel fuel spill just 15 minutes later blocked three northbound lanes south of Montana Avenue. The crash caused a three-mile backup at about 6:30 a.m.
The lanes reopened at about 9:30 a.m. No injuries were reported.
"It's a good thing we opened the lane when we did because it would be worse right now," said Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero. "It just shows you that traffic is so dynamic."
The lane opening is part of a larger project involving a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway. Next month, three miles of the project area will be open, Sotero said.
"It's important to open as we go," Sotero said. "This is an effort to move things along as we can."
The project included two weekend closures of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass -- aka Carmageddon I and II. Drivers can expect progress this year on the Wilshire Boulevard interchange and several overpasses, Sotero said.
Officials said the project should be complete by June 2014.
The project has met several setbacks and hurdles. The finish date for the $1 billion porject has been delayed for at least 13 months and costs might end up about $100 million over budget.
The additional lane comes as an estimated 2.17 million Southern Californians prepare to drive to their holiday weekend destinations. That figure is about the same as last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The Automobile Club estimates that about 2.53 million Southern Californians will travel this weekend. About 706,000 travelers will pas through Los Angeles International Airport tihs weekend, according to the Auto Club.
Friday and Monday are expected to be the busiest days at LAX.