'Jamzilla' work is on schedule; Metro urges drivers to avoid area

'Jamzilla' work is on schedule; Metro urges drivers to avoid area
Workers drill holes into the concrete Saturday as they rebuild the pavement on the 405 Freeway, just south of the Ventura Boulevard offramp in Los Angeles. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Traffic on the northbound 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass continued to flow smoothly early Sunday, Day 2 of "Jamzilla."

But transportation officials are still warning drivers to avoid the freeway between Sunset and Ventura boulevards, where extensive paving and striping is being done over the Presidents Day weekend for a new carpool lane.
"Today we're just asking for the public's cooperation for Day 2 of the operation," said Dave Sotero, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We want to be focused on the operation, not the traffic."
Work was completed earlier than expected Sunday morning, and northbound lanes reopened about 6:15 a.m., Sotero said. The paving work in the area near the Getty has been completed, and lane reductions that stretch to Ventura Boulevard have been moved to just south of Skirball Center.

Both connectors from the 10 Freeway to the northbound 405 will be closed until the end of Jamzilla due to traffic and safety concerns.

Traffic moved smoothly during the morning hours Saturday when motorists experienced delays of only a few minutes as the freeway narrowed to two lanes between Wilshire and Sunset boulevards. Before noon the delays increased to about 20 minutes, then declined to about 10 minutes by midafternoon.

Once motorists negotiated the stretch of merging traffic, normal travel speeds resumed, especially past the Mulholland Bridge and down the hill into the San Fernando Valley.

Heavy traffic also caused some delays on the westbound 10 Freeway between La Cienega Boulevard and the closed ramps to the 405. But the California Department of Transportation reported that traffic moved normally on alternate routes such as the 110, 710 and 5 freeways as well as Sepulveda Boulevard parallel to the 405.


"It was well-managed," said motorist John Berggren, who added that he was pleasantly surprised after hearing the warnings about lane closures as he drove up from San Diego.

Transportation officials attribute the success so far to a month-long effort to educate the public about the three days of lane closures using the news media, websites and warning signs along local freeways.

"We've done a full-court press to get the information out there," said Marc Littman, a Metro spokesman. "People are heeding the message, but they still need to keep away from the pass."

Transportation officials said the construction is proceeding on schedule and the highway should be fully opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday as planned.

Jamzilla is the name transportation officials have given the freeway closure. It recalls the weekend closures of the entire 405 in 2011 and 2012, which gave workers time and space to demolish the Mulholland Bridge.

The first of those gave rise to the apocalyptic term "Carmageddon," considering that the 405 is one of the busiest highways in the nation with more than 300,000 vehicle trips day. The Southland, however, survived the loss of drive time relatively unscathed.

Dave Sotero, a spokesman for Metro, which is managing the $1.1-billion freeway-widening project, said the current closure is similar to the earlier closures but it affects only the northbound side. Three of five northbound lanes between Ventura and just south of Sunset will be closed during the day, while all five will be shut down at night.

Southbound lanes will be unaffected during the day, but one or two lanes will probably be closed at night, Sotero said.

Metro and Caltrans are advising motorists to scope out alternate routes and to monitor traffic conditions via Twitter, Facebook, news reports and Metro's 405 project website.

Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer