Construction officials Kasey Shula (L) and Natasha Jones pose for a photo on the 405 Freeway as construction crews demolish a portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge along the 405 Freeway in September 2012. Two Carmageddons later, a northbound carpool lane will debut on Friday, May 23. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Getty Images)
If you've ever had the experience of tasting a little bit of a fancy dinner a few hours ahead of sitting down to the whole thing, you know that the early tidbit typically doesn't diminish your later pleasure.
It's an apt comparison to make to the 405's new northbound carpool lane, which debuts in full on Friday, May 23.
A small portion opened at the end of April -- between Wilshire Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway -- giving commuters a preview of what was to come (although it converted to a "general purpose lane" while awaiting the carpool lane's complete unveiling).
Previews are over and that unveiling has arrived. Two Carmageddons -- sorry, make that Carmageddon and Return of Carmageddon -- and years of bridge-demolishing and intense, traffic-re-routing construction anticipated the moment when the 10-mile northbound carpool lane would open.
"The 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, linking the San Fernando Valley and the Westside, is one of the nation's busiest traffic spots..." reads the site of area representative Zev Yaroslavsky, LA County Supervisor, Third District. "The new northbound lane will close a gap in the 405's high-occupancy vehicle network and create the nation's longest continuous carpool lane."
"For the first time, it will be possible for a carpooler can now drive seamlessly from the Orange County border to the 101 Freeway."
Metro and Caltrans have worked side-by-side during the multi-year project.
But the light switch won't get flicked off once the first car completes its run through the new lane come May 23. "The lane opening doesn't spell the end of the project altogether; numerous smaller tasks, such as landscaping, remain," reads County Supervisor Yaroslavsky's page. "But it marks a major moment of relief for construction-weary residents and motorists who have endured years of disruptions through the Sepulveda Pass."
The goal to "mitigate congestion" through the pass now moves from planning and theory to practice-in-action. Happy carpooling, patient drivers.