Officials planned a five-week closure of Coldwater Canyon Avenue, a major route between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside of Los Angeles, for an underground pipe construction project. The closure started March 23, 2013.
Traffic on the San Diego Freeway crawled out of Westside LA on Saturday morning as work crews closed one of the region’s major alternate routes for a construction project on Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Studio City.
Coldwater was closed to through daytime traffic on Saturday after a flood of publicity by city transportation officials.
Giant backhoes parked in the middle of the street, a tidal wave of news coverage, flashing signs and door-to-door pamphlets had been used to get the word out about the closure of the route, one of the very few direct roadway links between the 818 and 323 area codes.
A ripple effect of displaced cars began to spread out across other routes linking the Westside and central Los Angeles to the Valley.
Traffic officials predicted extra strain on the Hollywood and 405 freeways, the latter already constrained with a $1 billion widening project.
A five-car crash in which a pickup truck dropped a chair on the freeway at Wilshire Boulevard exacerbated the Saturday morning drive.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is closing Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard from March 23 to April 25.
Crews will have to bore 16 feet below ground to replace a nearly 100-year-old trunk line that ruptured in 2009 with a new welded steel pipe as part of an ongoing city trunk line replacement project, according to the utility's website.
The water main takes water from Sylmar to the Franklin Reservoir in West LA.
Lanes in both directions of Coldwater Canyon Avenue will be closed for construction from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
The roadway will be open Sundays.
One lane in each direction will be open during non-construction hours. At that time, drivers heading both north and south on Coldwater Canyon Avenue will be prohibited from turning left onto Ventura Boulevard.
Most of the construction will take place at the road's intersections with Dickens Street, Avenida del Sol and Hacienda Drive.
Residents, businesses, churches and schools -- including Harvard-Westlake School, Sunnyside Preschool and St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church -- are being issued special access permits to allow local traffic in the area.
City officials suggest drivers take the following alternate routes:
View Coldwater Canyon Ave Closed 3/23 to 4/25 in a larger map
NBC's Christina Cocca contributed to this report.