The second phase of the Sepulveda Pass Improvement Project is not set to begin until late September, but officials are worried drivers will not heed warnings to stay away from the 405 Freeway because Carmageddon 1 went off without a hitch. The upcoming phase will close the 405 Freeway in both directions from the 101 Freeway to the 10 Freeway for 53 hours to allow for the completion of the Mulholland Bridge. Angie Crouch reports from the Sepulveda Pass for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on August 2, 2012.
Planning to be in Southern California on the last weekend in September? Please, stay home. Especially if you're on Los Angeles' westside.
That was the plea of city, county and regional transportation officials on Thursday as they announced the impending doom that they're calling "Carmageddon II."
"Whatever the hell you do, don't go near the 405 corridor," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said during a news conference.
Beginning on the night of Friday, Sept. 28, a 10-mile stretch of the notoriously heavily trafficked San Diego (405) Freeway will be shut down to vehicle traffic.
Lanes will be completely shut down on the 405, which is the nation's busiest interstate, from the Santa Monica (10) to the Ventura (101) freeways. Traffic will be allowed back on beginning at 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1.
The 53-hour closure is needed to complete work that was begun last year with the much-hyped "Carmageddon" (the original installment in the series). Workers will be demolishing the second half of the Mulholland Bridge.
During Carmageddon I in July 2011, traffic seemed actually better than it would on a normal weekend in LA.
It won't be like that this time, officials warned, especially not if "public apathy" makes people less cautious about avoiding traffic.
"Last year, we proved that Angelenos far and wide could rise to the occasion and cooperate with authorities to turn Carmageddon into ‘Carmaheaven’ free of apocalyptic traffic congestion," LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a press release last month. "It was truly one of L.A.’s finest moments. We are again calling on the public to do its civic duty. Do not become complacent."
Officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the massive I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, said it's unlikely the freeway will be reopen early this time. In 2011, workers completed the job 17 hours ahead of schedule.
This fall, two sets of bridge columns will have to be removed, compared to just one set last year.
Officials cautioned the region's residents and visitors to Southern California to avoid the area. Sepulveda Boulevard, they said, isintended as an alternate route for local residents only.
The motto Metro is promoting for the closure is: "Plan ahead, avoid the area, or eat, shop and play locally."
Motorists should instead use alternate regional freeway routes to completely bypass the area. Those routes include the 5, 15, 23, 55, 57, 101, 118, 126, 210, 605 and 710 freeways.
California Highway Patrol officials were also quick to say that they'll arrest daredevils who try to venture onto the empty freeway to perform stunts or record viral videos like those that became popular in 2011.
That means no dinner parties on the 405 this time, folks.
NBC4's Angie Crouch contributed to this story.