With the full 20-hour overnight closure of the San Diego Freeway (I-405) approaching, OCTA hosted a media event Thursday, Aug. 15 to help ensure members of the public have the information they need to navigate around the freeway.
A record number of media outlets gathered at the site of the 50-year-old bridge connector that crews will demolish during the closure. There, OCTA leaders encouraged members of the public to find alternate routes for their drive and provided detour information for the closure.
Construction workers will close the I-405 in both directions from 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17 through 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, between the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) and Valley View Street in Westminster in order to demolish the bridge that had linked the southbound I-405 to the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22).
"This stretch of the I-405 at the county line is the most heavily traveled stretch of the entire freeway and we have been working hard to get the word out to everyone about the closure," OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson said. "I want to thank our partners at Caltrans for helping spread the word with the overhead message signs and to Southern California’s airports, ports, entertainment and sporting venues to get the closure information out to a wider audience."
As a follow up to the news conference, OCTA representatives Ted Nguyen and Sarah King were on site starting at 4 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 16 at the bridge going from interview to interview to answer media questions on camera for live television newscasts covering the I-405 closure.
Stations including KNBC, CBS2 / KCAL9, KTLA 5, MyFox L.A. and Spanish news station Telemundo asked questions about the demolition work, detours and other information for motorists navigating around the closure.
Nguyen and King also spoke live on KNX and KFI radio news stations to hundreds of thousands of listeners tuning in to the morning show for their traffic information.
More than 70 workers will carefully chip away at the bridge during this "Bridge Bash," using more than 50 pieces of equipment to safely demolish the bridge in segments.
Crews had recently completed a new connector bridge last month that opened to motorists. The new connector carries cars directly from the carpool lane on the SR-22 to the carpool lane on the I-405.
"By eliminating the weaving that carpoolers have to go through to switch freeways, it will help to significantly reduce congestion through one of the most heavily traveled areas anywhere in the nation," OCTA Director John Moorlach said.
On an average weekday, 370,000 vehicles travel on the I-405 at the I-605 junction where the Bridge Bash begins. By comparison, 314,000 cars a day travel the I-405 at Santa Monica Boulevard, the site of the Carmageddon closure.
OCTA Vice Chairman Shawn Nelson detailed the different detour routes available for motorists during the closure that may be found online as well as on an interactive Google map. However, Nelson joined Moorlach in encouraging the public to avoid the freeway if possible during the closure as the safest and most efficient option.
"Our best advice to people is to avoid the area," Nelson said. "Stay local for the weekend, catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to read or that gardening you’ve been putting off all summer," he suggested.
District 12 Acting Deputy Director of Capital Outlay Support Lisa Ramsey explained the process by which crews will demolish the bridge and the maintenance work that Caltrans crew will perform during the closure. This work would otherwise require separate closures over a seven-day period.
"This is an ideal way to perform important maintenance work and do it in a way that is efficient and cost effective for taxpayers," Ramsey said.
Following the press conference, media members had the opportunity to drive up to the top of the bridge and shoot footage of the construction safely under crew supervision.