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Mulholland Bridge, which sparked 'Carmageddon' fears, reopens

Carmaggedon (2012)California Department of TransportationNew York City MTA

The Mulholland Drive Bridge, whose two-phased demolitions in 2011 and 2012 sparked fears of terrible traffic gridlocks widely known as “Carmageddon,” reopened Wednesday morning.

County and state transportation officials removed the traffic cones from the bridge over Interstate 405 at 6 a.m. 

Officials planned to mark the occasion with an official announcement by the bridge at noon. The conference will include a parade of construction, law enforcement and classic cars crossing the iconic bridge.

Demolishing and rebuilding the bridge was part of a $1-billion freeway improvement project that included adding a 10-mile northbound carpool lane through the Sepulveda Pass.

The route connects Angelenos from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.

The demolition, however, required that transportation officials close the same 10-mile stretch of the freeway, sparking fears of clogged streets and freeways that have only been seen in Hollywood disaster films.  

The first demolition happened on the weekend of July 16, 2011.

City, county and state officials took to social media, the radio and television to warn the public of terrible gridlocks if they didn’t stay away from the construction area. They even suggested that Angelenos go car-less for a weekend and try public transportation to get around.

Transportation officials also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising to remind motorists of the closure.

In its copyrighted use, "Carmageddon" is a violent video game that involves smashing into cars and running over pedestrians. It is unclear who first used the term to described the threat of the 405 closure, but it went viral after L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky invoked it at a news conference in June 2011.

People took heed of the warnings and largely stayed off the roads for the weekend.  

The second part of the bridge was demolished the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012.

Warning about gridlocks was quieter, but officials once again encouraged motorists to stay out of the area and ditch their cars in favor of public transportation, bicycles or walking to local destinations.

At first, city and county leaders were backing an alternative plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation, which called for construction of a new bridge before tearing down the old one. That option would have required shutting down the 405 Freeway for only one weekend instead of two. 

Officials supported the plan because it was efficient, less costly and quicker than the original one, which called for demolishing and rebuilding the existing bridge in two phases.

But property owners blocked it and transportation officials instead went with the original plan. 

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