Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Carmageddon": This is why the rest of the country makes fun of L.A.

This coming weekend here in the Los Angeles metropolitan area there will be the partial demolition of a bridge over a freeway. For this, a portion of a few miles of the freeway in question will be completely closed from Friday night through early Monday morning (see red rectangle below).

That seems like it would create some inconvenience for those who live or work or otherwise would travel that portion of the freeway during the weekend, but would otherwise be a minor issue, right?

Apparently you missed when I referenced this was "Los Angeles."

The freeway in question is the 405 (here in California we put definite articles in front of freeway numbers—something that I've found is intriguing to those from other parts of the country where that's not done), which is one of the worse freeways in the whole area regarding traffic, and the portion in question is the Sepulveda Pass, the primary artery for vehicles through the hills that separate the western part of the L.A. basin to the San Fernando valley (a.k.a. "the Valley"), so it is cutting off the main thoroughfare for connecting two major pockets of the area. And because ramps will start closing as early as 7 p.m. Friday evening, that could start affecting people trying to get home from work. Still, it's only the closure of a few miles of freeway in a metropolitan area with literally hundreds of miles of freeway that won't be closed. People will need to find alternate routes or choose not to travel there. This is certainly worth getting the word out to the public about so people know about it and can plan accordingly.

However, this being Southern California, it has already been dubbed "Carmageddon," and the local news has been running stories for weeks about how to "survive the 405" (there's graphics and everything). It is discussed in the same way people on the Gulf Coast must be alerted about coming hurricanes. (It lacks that gravity, of course, but the amount of time devoted to it on the broadcasts is analogous.) Every message sign over every freeway has been carrying the same message for weeks about the closure, specifically noting to expect "big delays." Officials, when interviewed, are advising citizens to stay around their homes over the weekend—not merely those in the immediate area but everyone.

Which is actually a perfectly reasonable recommendation, given the circumstances (and the price of gasoline). However, if there's one thing Angelinos find offensive, it's the notion of not being able to get in their cars. So this becomes an event on par with a disaster, at least judging from the treatment by our local media.

I don't have a good feeling about how we'll fare when an actual disaster might occur.


  1. Everyone should just go to San Diego for the weekend. ;-)

  2. Suppose you've got to get to LAX in a hurry (from north or south). Can you do it?

  3. If you need to get to LAX in a hurry at any time, this weekend or otherwise, you cannot.

  4. Page 2 of the daily Plattsburgh, NY newspaper: Carmageddon! God, so much news out there and this is what gets top place? Why it crowds out what Kate is wearing! How dare they!

  5. And convinced to stay off the road, Angelinos avoided the horror, turning the attention into another Al Capone's vault for the media.


So, what do you think?