LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Fire Department will have more firefighters and paramedics working on the Westside for “Carmageddon II” this weekend, officials said today.
The extra hands will include motorcycle teams capable of weaving through gridlocked traffic in an emergency.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes the affected 10- mile section of the San Diego (405) Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, said extra personnel will be deployed at three fire stations serving the Mountain Gate community, Encino Hills, Bel-Air, Beverly Glen and West Los Angeles.
“I’m very pleased that the LAFD has once again committed to increasing staffing levels in my geographically isolated communities to ensure my residents will not be put in peril should a significant emergency incident occur during this weekend closure,” Rosendahl said. “The innovative use of motorcycle teams to respond to emergencies should shave precious minutes off an emergency medical response, and allow for the quick stabilization of a patient prior to the arrival of an ambulance crew.”
About 7 p.m. Friday, road crews will begin closing access roads to the 405 between the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and the Ventura (101) Freeway. Freeway lanes will begin closing around 10 p.m., and the full freeway will be closed in both directions until about 5 a.m. Monday.
The closure is to accommodate the demolition of the north side of the Mulholland Bridge, which was cut in half lengthwise during Carmageddon I in July 2011. The span is one of the final bridges to be replaced to accommodate a wider freeway, with a northbound car pool lane running from Orange County to Sherman Oaks. The overall project is expected to cost about $1 billion.
During Carmageddon I, fears of gridlocked canyon roads never materialized and the job was completed early. Now, city officials, fearing complacency among the driving populace, have been warning people to stay home.
The fire department’s motorcycle teams, which include two firefighter/EMTs, will be stationed on both sides of the 405 — renowned as the world’s busiest freeway. They will also be used to provide traffic reports around the closed section of freeway.
Fire Chief Brian Cummings said he was confident the extra personnel will be enough to make for “a huge success in managing any impact associated with this project.”
To avoid a traffic nightmare, about 185,000 motorists need to stay out of their cars this weekend, according to Caltrans.
Caltrans will have 30 additional portable electronic message signs on various freeways during the closure to provide up-to-date travel information to motorists. It will also have round-the-clock monitoring from its Los Angeles area Transportation Management Center in hopes of providing faster responses to emergencies that arise affecting freeway traffic.