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LA mayor declares ‘Carmageddon II’ a success

Christopher Weber Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Sunday called “Carmageddon II,” the sequel to last year’s shutdown of one of the nation’s busiest freeways, a success and thanked drivers for staying off the road and keeping the weekend traffic unusually light.

Bridgework that forced the closure of Interstate 405 was completed and lanes of the freeway through the Sepulveda Pass began reopening Sunday night, hours ahead of a planned reopening for the Monday morning commute.

The connector ramps to Interstate 10 were opened first, followed by the northbound lanes and the on-ramps, police Det. Gus Villanueva said. The process will be repeated for southbound lanes.

A similar closure occurred last year to demolish portions of the Mulholland Drive bridge to allow construction of an additional freeway lane. Like last year, city residents heeded months of warnings to stay off the road and the fear of an epic traffic jam never materialized.

Villaraigosa says his hope for a “Carmaheaven” came true and thanked drivers for their cooperation.

“The real stars of this sequel were the motorists who took advantage of a car-free weekend and stayed off the road,” he said.

Like Villaraigosa, some drivers couldn’t resist comparing the scenario to a movie.

“It’s like that movie ‘Vanilla Sky,’ … where Times Square is empty,” Sterling Gates told KABC-TV. “It’s kind of like that. We’re known for our traffic, and it’s just nothing.”

The closed, 10-mile section of the 405 carries about 500,000 motorists each day on a typical weekend, according to the Los Angeles Times. California Department of Transportation officials said that in order for “Carmageddon II” to be a success, at least two-thirds of those drivers need to stay off the road.

The rare sight of a carless freeway attracted many onlookers, including seven people who were cited for sneaking onto the roadway, the California Highway Patrol said.

Last year, three people slipped onto the freeway at the crack of dawn and snapped photos of themselves enjoying a gourmet meal on an eerily empty freeway.

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