When Caltrans announced that it planned to close the busy 405 freeway July 15 to 18, the local populace immediately went into panic mode. The Interstate, which links the San Fernando Valley with West Los Angeles and points south, is a vital link in L.A’s sprawling highway network.
Local media instantly dubbed the closure – to tear down a 50 year old bridge, so the 405 could be widened – “Carmageddon;” i.e. an event of Biblical proportions. Innumerable flashing signs lined all the freeways warning drivers to expect “Big Delays.” Reports of the looming catastrophe spread across the U.S., and even abroad, as the BBC carried several stories on it.
However, when the big weekend arrived – like a lion – it turned out to be a mouse, and a small one at that. Motorists evinced more collective sense than the media, as they simply stayed home. There were no traffic jams, no pileups, no road rage and ultimately no real story.
By all reports most L.A. residents spent a quiet day at home, or close to it, and, although a number of business owners complained of lost sales, most people seemed quite pleased with having a quiet day off of L.A.’s sometimes chaotic freeways.
It is now rumored that California’s automobile insurers are trying to get Caltrans to tear down more bridges, and close more freeways, as the absence of accident claims must have been impressive.
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