The first drivers roared up the newly reopened 405 Freeway at high noon Sunday, honking horns, kicking up roostertails of demolition dust, arms stretched through open windows to wave at no one in particular.
And so the reprieve from freeway traffic ended early, along with the planned weekend closure that had threatened to unleash "Carmageddon" if not for the public's cooperation.
Contractors had padded the schedule to allow for unforeseen mishaps in tearing down half of the Mulholland Drive bridge before the Monday morning rush, risking enormous fines and public disdain under an international spotlight if they were late.
It wasn't needed. The demolition went smoothly, enabling contractors to finish about 17 hours ahead of schedule, pocket an extra $300,000 in incentive payments and win acclaim from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other officials who jockeyed for position in front of television cameras.
"Mission accomplished," the mayor said, beaming as if he had just won a war. L.A. TIMES