Carmageddon Crews Get to Work

By Gordon Tokumatsu, Sergio LeLevier and Neil Costes
|  Friday, Jul 15, 2011  |  Updated 10:38 PM PDT
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Workers talk about what it takes to pull off a massive project like the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge.

KNBC-TV

Workers talk about what it takes to pull off a massive project like the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge.

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Work has finally begun on the 405 Freeway widening project.

LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said for a Friday evening in Los Angeles during any time of the year he has never seen anything like it.

"There's practically no traffic anywhere in the region," according to Yaroslavsky. "I think people have gotten the message. But the important thing is that Saturday and Sunday are the big days. That's when people, during the day they want to do things. We need people to sustain this effort throughout tomorrow and throughout Sunday.

But what does it take to pull off a massive project like the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge?

Ieti Epenesa arrived early Friday afternoon to supervise one of the first phases of the 405 Freeway closure. Crews spread a thick layer of soil below the Mulholland Bridge, half of which will be demolished during the closure.

Extra: Carmageddon Survival Kit

"Five feet of pad all the way around to cover all the concrete," Epenesa said.

As jackhammers smash the southern half of the bridge to smithereens, giant chunks of debris will be raining down on the 405. The layer of soil will act as a cushion, keeping the freeway itself free of damage.

Workers started arriving at the site around 3 p.m. to get their equipment ready. Two-hundred pieces of heavy equipment are stationed next to the freeway.

To get this job done, no part of the 405 must remain open. That's why all lanes need to be completely shut down.

So will drivers heed the warnings and stay away? Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa certainly hopes so.

"Depending on the outcome of the weekend, and I expect it to go very smoothly, we can either say we survived Carmageddon, or we survived the Carmageddon hype," Villaraigosa said.

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