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Rerouted marathon to add traffic

Numerous intersections and freeway ramps will be closed for Sunday's race, which will start near Universal City and end in downtown L.A.

March 01, 2007|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

With thousands of feet pounding the streets Sunday for the Los Angeles Marathon, some frustrated motorists might wish they had worn their running shoes too.

Hundreds of street intersections and freeway ramps will be closed to accommodate the 26.2-mile race. Its new route stretches from the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles.

Getting around by bus won't be much easier: 80 bus lines will be rerouted, forcing some drivers to drop passengers at subway and light-rail stations to complete their journeys.

"We are urging people to use the Metro rail system ... because our bus system will be greatly impacted by the new race route," said Rick Jager, a Metro spokesman.

This year's marathon begins at 8:15 a.m. at Cahuenga and Lankershim boulevards near Universal City. It travels through Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Exposition Park, West Adams and the Eastside, ending at 5th and Flower streets downtown.

Because the route is no longer circular, marathon participants will have to park at one end and travel, preferably by subway, to the other end, adding to the congestion.

Public transit should be extra crowded early Sunday, as more than 20,000 runners and walkers -- combined with an estimated 1 million spectators -- hustle to get in place. Marathon runners are invited to ride Metro buses and trains for free. (Race organizers will pay their way.) Others are urged to buy a $3 day pass for unlimited use.

Red Line subway trains will be on an accelerated schedule, running every six minutes between Universal City and downtown L.A. beginning at 4:45 a.m. Riders going to the starting line should board the Red Line train marked "North Hollywood."

Downtown traffic will be most affected. The area bounded by Western Avenue, Soto Street, 3rd Street and Vernon Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic for much of Sunday. A smaller area, bounded by 3rd Street, Grand Avenue, 5th Street and Flower Street, will be shut down beginning Saturday evening.

More than 350 major intersections will be closed, as well as 22 offramps along the Hollywood, Santa Monica and Harbor freeways.

Last year's more limited route required 215 major intersections to be closed.

City transit officials warn that anyone not in the race who's trying to navigate the marathon course will probably be turned around or have to wait for the runners to pass.

"For a person who needs to cross the route to go to work, to the hospital or just leaving the Renaissance Hotel [at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue] for the airport, that's a disaster for him," said Ali Mahdavi, senior transportation engineer for the city's special traffic operations unit.

Vehicles parked along the marathon route will be towed beginning at 1 a.m. Sunday. Two hours later, street closures will begin. Some streets will be closed until about 5 p.m. Sunday.

Street closure information is available online at trafficinfo.lacity.org. Transit schedules and maps are available at www.metro.net or by calling (800) COMMUTE. Marathon information can be found at www.lamarathon.com.

jean.guccione@latimes.com

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