0

MUST READ: 'Carmageddon' warnings pay off in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- For those who say the weekend-long freeway closure dubbed ''Carmageddon'' was a non-event, Los Angeles County's transit agency has two words: You're welcome.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Dave Sotero said the agency's coordination of wide-ranging efforts to keep residents out of their cars -- especially in the area around the shut-down portion of Interstate 405 -- kept the weekend of freeway construction from generating the epic traffic jams that many had feared.

''People thought we were crazy. They said there's no way to get two-thirds of the motorists who drive the 405 to stay away or stay home here in Los Angeles, the car capital of the world,'' he said. ''But we actually did it.''

On Monday afternoon, about 24 hours after the 10-mile freeway stretch linking the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles Westside reopened almost a day ahead of schedule, traffic on area roads was back to its normal congested but functional state.

''It's just a typical day,'' said California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Judy Gish.

Crews finished demolition work on the bridge early Sunday, toppling two massive pillars and creating about 4,000 tons of rubble to be removed.

Project contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West could have been fined $72,000 an hour for a delay in getting the freeway reopened, the MTA said.

Instead, Kiewit will receive an extra $300,000 for finishing early. The early finish saved $400,000 -- even with the Kiewit bonus -- since paying workers for an additional 12-hour shift would have cost $700,000.

Sotero said the contractor had accounted for possible mishaps -- such as worker injuries, equipment problems and damage to the surrounding roads -- when it estimated work would take 53 hours, but none of those fears came true.