Opinion Editorial

Hey, L.A., let's all do the Jamzilla

As if the 405 Freeway hasn't broken our hearts and made us weep enough in the four years it's been under construction, it's now poised to make us miserable on Valentine's Day night and Presidents Day weekend. At 10 p.m. Friday, workers will start closing onramps and offramps, and by 1 a.m. Saturday, all lanes on the northbound 405 between Getty Center Drive and Ventura Boulevard will be shut down, making this no freeway of love for romantic revelers. Over the next 80 hours, three out of five lanes will be closed during the day and all five will be closed late at night. And one or two southbound lanes are likely to be closed at night as well.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is calling it Jamzilla. Which makes it sound more like a music festival than a weekend of gnarly traffic in the Sepulveda Pass. Drivers will have their choice of congestion on the limited 405, or congestion on the anemic alternate route, Sepulveda Boulevard. The shutdown is for repaving stretches of the freeway, a time-consuming process of putting down a layer of concrete, letting it set and then putting down another layer. Not that you care. You just want it to stop.

This construction project is already more than a year behind schedule. If it takes another Carmageddon — the two epic weekend closures of both sides of the freeway in 2011 and 2012 — or just a Jamzilla to keep the finish line from being pushed further into the future, then Metro is smart to do the closure. In fact, over the past weeks, Metro has been closing smaller stretches of the freeway overnight to get work done. That requires drivers to get off the freeway for a couple of miles, but it doesn't wreak havoc on the entire system.

Currently, the completion of this $1.1-billion project to widen the freeway and add a northbound HOV lane between the Santa Monica and Ventura freeways is projected for summer 2014. Yes, that's right, any time between June 21 and Sept. 22. There are work projects on the freeway scheduled into July. And although the HOV lane will open to drivers as soon as it's done, there still could be some work — landscaping, for example — going on here and there after the summer ends.

So if a little more overnight misery saves Metro officials from having to announce again that they're behind schedule, let's live with that.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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