Unintended Consequences of the 405 Project

The 405 project causes some unintended problems, when construction threatens to disrupt boundaries important to LA's Jewish community.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The 405 project causes some unintended problems, when construction threatens to disrupt boundaries important to LA's Jewish community.

    The 405 construction has some unintended consequences. One of them is a possible disruption of the Eruv, a wall which marks a boundary that's symbolic, but physical to the Jewish community.

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    The Eruv allows observant members of the Jewish faith within it to performs some tasks on the Sabbath, like pushing a stroller or wheelchair.

    "It's very beneficial for the community as people, to be able to bring their young kids, and the elderly who can't walk on their own to the synagogue," according to Dovid Lieder, of the Congregation Bais Bezalel.

    But the Eruv has to be unbroken, and one of the boundaries of the Los Angeles Eruv is the 405.

    It's a 40 mile perimeter, moving west from the 405, to the northern boundary of the 101, then all the way east to Western Avenue and South to the 10.

    Engineers on the project had no idea what an Eruv was.…

    "I had to go to two places. First I went back to the old testament and looked up the rules on the Sabbath, and then went online and understood what the Eruv boundary was. It was new to us too," says Dan Kulka, of the Kiewitt Infrastructure Group.

    The Los Angeles community Eruv's administrator, Howard Witkin, has been on the project now for months, to keep the enclosure unbroken even with so much chaos going on.

    "So we have three Rabbis whose job it is to inspect the full perimeter, and then we have a crew of four guys who do the repairs," according to Howard Witkin, Eruv Administrator.

    And the Eruv is given the same importance as utilities.

    "The same if it was a private telephone company, or the electric company, or the gas company, or anyone else with an encroachment permit," says Witkin. "They work with us, mostly so we can make the changes. They don't do the work, we do the work, but they've kept us apprized from the beginning.

    "It has to be just so, so that it forms the proper boundary," says Kulka. "Precise means precise it's gotta be right."