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O.C. braces for 20-hour closure of 405 Freeway near L.A. County

Four miles of the southbound 405 and a shorter portion of the northbound freeway will close for 20 hours for bridge demolition.

August 16, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Map shows the lanes of the 405 Freeway, in red, that will be closed starting at 9 p.m. Saturday and recommended detours.
Map shows the lanes of the 405 Freeway, in red, that will be closed starting… (Sources: ESRI, OCTA. Graphic…)

Residents of Orange County and surrounding areas are girding for a 20-hour closure of a stretch of the 405 Freeway that starts at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Call it the Bridge Bash, the Orange Jam or just a pain. A four-mile stretch of the southbound 405 will be closed between the 605 and 22 freeways, probably until 5 p.m. Sunday . The northbound side will be closed at Valley View Street. Officials warned drivers to stay away, if possible.

"If you don't need to be in the area, steer clear," said Ted Nguyen, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The closure will allow workers to demolish a bridge as part of a $277-million project to link carpool lanes between the 405, 22 and 605 freeways.

The affected section of the 405 is one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, with more than 300,000 vehicles passing through on an average summer weekend day. Beachgoers, truck drivers, sports fans and many others will have to contend with detours and delays during the closure. Various summer beach events, concerts and a Saturday-night Galaxy game at the StubHub Center in Carson could add to the numbers on the road.

"The public just needs to realize there are alternatives. If you're a local, you know how to get around," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. "If you're up in L.A. and you're going to San Diego just stay on the 5 or … just be creative."

"Hopefully, we go through this just like Carmageddon," he continued, referring to the summer weekend closures of a portion of the 405 in Los Angeles County in 2011 and '12. "It got so much media attention that by the time it rolled around, no one complained."

The area affected by the closure has a few things in its favor to mitigate potential traffic disasters, including such options as the 5 and 91 freeways. Those who choose to brave the 405 will have a few options for detours: Southbound motorists can use Katella and Westminster avenues. Northbound motorists will have to exit at Valley View Street, but can get back on the freeway using the westbound 22, which merges with the northbound 405.

Transportation officials have been referring to the closure as the Bridge Bash, but the Orange County Register, unsatisfied with the moniker, held a naming contest. Suggestions included Orangeageddon, Carzilla and Clogwork Orange. Orange Jam was the winner.

The demolition of the 700-foot bridge, which connected the southbound 405 to the eastbound 22 before a new bridge opened in July, will create about 3,600 tons of concrete debris, officials said. Much of the closure will be spent clearing the rubble.

"We've had about 10 months of careful planning," Nguyen said. "Our plan is to have the debris cleaned off of the 405, recycled, clear, and then we will do the necessary precautions to make sure the freeway is safe to reopen. The plan is to have it reopen by 5 p.m. on Sunday."

"There's always a possibility that it could be earlier — we're always hopeful that's the case. But realistically, we're planning on having the freeway open at 5."

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