A countdown clock running on a digital billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
Carmageddon, the sequel, comes to Los Angeles this weekend, when the 405 Freeway will be closed in both directions between the 10 and 101 freeways from midnight Saturday until 5 a.m. Monday.
Last year's closure of the 10 miles of freeway — to demolish half of the Mulholland Bridge as part of the project to widen the 405 — went spectacularly well because people took the warnings to stay off the roads seriously. This weekend — as workers demolish the other half of the bridge — it may be tempting to calculate, "I can drive, because no one else will be driving." Don't. The price for your folly just might be a giant traffic jam in the Sepulveda Pass or on other north-south corridors. It's not the worst fate that could befall Los Angeles residents, but unlike so many other things we must cope with — earthquakes, fires, car chases — it can be avoided.
And there are more unpredictable circumstances in play this time. Churches and cultural centers that canceled events last year aren't doing so this year. Astonishingly, the Herbalife Triathlon is scheduled for Sunday, featuring more than 2,000 participants swimming in the ocean off Venice, bicycling across the city and running into downtown, and some surface streets will be closed to accommodate them. (Apparently the date was set long before Carm II was announced.)
Full coverage: Carmageddon II
So leave the roads for the people who really need them: workers who must get to jobs, first responders who must get to emergencies, and all those triathletes. Instead, spend a rare weekend out of your car and in your neighborhood. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has an online interactive map dubbed "Eat, Shop, and Play Locally" that features discounts for the weekend at almost 300 restaurants, stores, museums and other attractions.
And don't prank the empty freeway. It's been done; no one is going to do it better than the folks who did it last year; and California Highway Patrol officers will be out in force to stop you from trying.