Jamzilla Congestion `Manageable’ At 20-Minute Delay

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Metro graphic.

Metro graphic.

WEST LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Jamzilla lane closures on the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway impacted traffic through the Sepulveda Pass and beyond today, but officials said the situation was “manageable” since many drivers heeded the call to avoid the area.

Still, large numbers of brake lights popped up on a different freeway all day, as drivers on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway encountered blocked-off transition roads onto the northbound 405.

Metro reported congestion on the Santa Monica Freeway near the 405 interchange late this afternoon and the agency soon after announced that the 10- to-405 north connector roads would remain closed until the end of Jamzilla on Tuesday morning. The California Highway Patrol recommended extending the connector road closures, citing driver safety and the impact to traffic on the 405, according to Metro.

“The construction is on schedule and the traffic is manageable,” said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero at midafternoon. “Manageable,” he said, meant delays of about 20 minutes where the five lanes of northbound 405 traffic funnelled down to two, from Wilshire Boulevard north to about Sunset Boulevard.

A late afternoon news conference to update construction progress was cancelled because there was nothing new to report, Sotero said.

Also by midafternoon, traffic began backing up on Sepulveda Boulevard next to the 405, as motorists sought to find some opening from Westwood into the San Fernando Valley.

The 80-hour repaving operation in the Sepulveda Pass caused all northbound lanes to be closed at 1 a.m. today, and two lanes reopened on schedule just after sunrise. Similar closures were scheduled for the next three early mornings:

– 2 to 7 a.m. Sunday;
— midnight to 5 a.m. Monday; and
— midnight to 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The full freeway should reopen at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials with Metro, which is overseeing the $1 billion San Diego Freeway construction project in the Sepulveda Pass, had warned that if people didn’t avoid the area during the closures, local streets and other freeways could become severely congested.

The closures and lane restrictions will accommodate what Metro calls a complex paving operation in the 5.6-mile stretch, with the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, spreading uniform layers of pavement each time.

Metro officials compared the operation with baking layers of a wedding cake — a far more delicate task than the bridge demolition that prompted the “Carmageddon” full-freeway closures.

“Operationally speaking, demolishing a bridge is a much simpler operation than paving and striping freeway lanes that must return to public use as quickly as possible,” said K.N. Murthy, executive director of transit project delivery at Metro.

“It’s the essential difference between destroying a structure and building a structure. Building something is much more difficult, and the paving methods we are using vary between each material type and have specific requirements that must be adhered to.”

In addition to the paving, crews will also shift the centerline of the freeway 20 feet to the west for about 1,000 feet, in the area where the San Diego Freeway winds down into the San Fernando Valley. That section of pavement is badly cracked, and will become the roadbed for the new pavement.

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