Drivers’ frustrations on 405 Freeway were alleviated sooner than expected thanks to speedy work by construction crews, Metro officials said Saturday.
The freeway through the Sepulveda Pass is expected to be wide open by Sunday morning, well ahead of schedule.
A third lane had already reopened by 8 p.m. Saturday, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said.
"Barring a major equipment failure, we expect to be out of the way before 5 a.m. Sunday,'" Sotero said.
Earlier Saturday, cars were crawling at tortoise-like speeds on the 405, as its five lanes were reduced to two for part of the $1 billion I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which was scheduled to require closure of three northbound lanes until Monday at 5 a.m.
Lanes were closed between Montana Avenue and Getty Center Drive, a stretch of about 2 1/2 miles.
Originally, the entire northbound stretch of freeway was going to be closed from 2 to 7 a.m. Sunday. That will no longer be necessary, Metro said on its blog The Source.
On Saturday, traffic was congested on surface streets near the freeway and on alternate canyon passes between the westside and the San Fernando Valley. Drivers waited in long lines to turn onto Coldwater Canyon Road, one of the nearest routes over the hill.
Sepulveda Boulevard and the Westwood area also felt the effects as the congestion dumped off into the areas immediately surrounding the closure, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Peterson, who suggested drivers sit tight and be patient until they reach their destination.
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“Once you’re stuck, you won’t be able to get anywhere by being frustrated, so stay calm and work your way through it,” Peterson said.
CHP dealt with a heavy increase of stalled vehicles since the lane reduction began Friday night as a result of very slow stop-and-go traffic, as well as a few non-injury collisions, Peterson said.
The agency has employed 13 additional patrol cars and motorcycles to handle any problems within the closure.
“We can respond to calls more quickly because we can drive in the closed lanes,” Peterson said. “Because we have so many units, most of the incidents are happening within only a few minutes of an officer.”
Vehicles were inching along at speeds between 5 to 11 mph along the reduced two-lane stretch mid-Saturday, and the suggested detours have not offered much relief.
“As far as detours go, I can guess drivers are thinking the same thing, so just about any detour route is going to be congested,” Peterson said. “Bear with it, be patient, and get to your destination safely.”
The weekend-long lane reduction will allow for the paving of a future high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane and realignment of the 405, a portion of the project that was scheduled to be completed in December, Metro officials said.
All southbound lanes of the 405 have remained open.