Flurry of work as May opening nears

April 24, 2014 

The end is in sight for the 405 Project, with a 10-mile northbound carpool lane set to open next month.

It’s a been a long, hard slog, but the 10-mile carpool lane at the heart of the 405 Project is finally set to open next month, prompting a surge of activity as workers scramble to finish the job.

The latest series of overnight closures, involving all of the 405’s northbound lanes, will run for four successive nights starting tonight, Thursday, April 24, so that workers can install signs over the freeway. Tonight’s closure is from Getty Center Drive to Greenleaf Street, with some ramps closing as early as 7 p.m. and lanes shutting down beginning at 10 p.m. Everything’s expected to reopen by 6 a.m. on Friday. Then, for the next three nights, the action shifts to the northbound lanes between Skirball Center Drive and Greenleaf Street, following roughly the same timetable. Full details are here.

The closures are part of the intensifying effort to finish up the carpool lane, which will represent the final and most significant milestone in the five-year-long project.

Other improvements along the way have included creating wider, safer flyover ramps at Wilshire Boulevard and rebuilding and seismically reinforcing three bridges over the freeway. Landscaping and assorted other finishing-up tasks, including repairing parts of the freeway surface, will still be in the works even after the carpool lane opens next month. But the big goal is in sight and getting closer each day, although the precise date of the opening has not yet been announced.

The new carpool lane's almost ready, and this sign near Wilshire awaits unveiling. Photo/Metro

“There’s a lot of action at the end,” said Mike Barbour, who is managing the effort for Metro. “The importance of making this May date is important to us…You’re getting the intensity of ‘Let’s wrap this up.’ ”

The work plans have generated a seemingly incessant stream of closure notices going out from project officials in recent weeks—and there’s no immediate end in sight.

“There are still a lot more nighttime closures in the next month,” Metro spokesman Dave Sotero confirmed.

And a 55-hour-long closure of a single freeway lane from Sunset Boulevard to Moraga Drive is set to run from Friday, May 2 through the morning of Monday, May 5. (More information is here.)

Even though it’s expected to last for a long time, a single lane closure like that should be a piece of cake for motorists who’ve had to roll with major shutdowns from Carmaggedon to Jamzilla—nicknames that got the public’s attention and helped foster the cooperation needed to accomplish the massive tasks at hand.

“This was always a project of hyperbole, but this was legitimate hyperbole,” Sotero reflected, noting that no other project in memory has affected such a uniquely “geographically constrained” area, the Sepulveda Pass, through which 300,000 motorists pass each day.

“I’m getting the sense that there will be a massive sigh of relief that the lane is open,” Sotero said.

Those who want to learn more about the final phases of the long-running project can attend a community meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Westwood Recreation Center, 1350 S. Sepulveda Boulevard.

The Valley Vista on-ramp to the southbound freeway is 98% complete. Photo/Metro

Posted 4/24/14

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