With one day left until "Carmageddon" strikes, it'll be helpful to know what exactly LA is getting itself into.
Last night, KCET aired a special entitled "Countdown to Carmageddon: The 405 Closure," produced by UCLA. The program puts the shutdown in perspective, noting that LA has never witnessed a larger or more time-consuming closure.
Carmageddon is just one part of a $1 billion dollar joint project with Metro and CalTrans to relieve traffic on the 405. Besides the demolition of one half of Mulholland Bridge this weekend and the other half next year, the project entails widening the ten miles between the 101 and the 10, replacing bridges at Skirball Drive and Sunset Boulevard, and replacing water mains and gas lines. If you missed the KCET program, you can catch it again on Friday night at 9:30. Watch a clip from it here.
In other news, an Associated Press article details the plans that emergency services are formulating:
Beyond tongue-in-cheek apocalyptic warnings, city leaders stressed that real public safety concerns exist: Helipads have been cleared for air ambulances and 200 extra firefighters and paramedics will be on duty, some of them positioned along the shuttered freeway to protect fire-prone hillsides in the area. Four big hospitals near the freeway on the city's west side are setting up cots and putting thousands of doctors, nurses and medical personnel in hotels and dorm rooms so they don't show up late to their shifts.
The UCLA Health System placed advanced orders for medical supplies and food, even preparing 5,200 box lunches for staff, ahead of the shutdown. It has three helicopter companies on standby to transport patients and human organs in the event of emergency operations.
"You can't take a chance when you deal with patient safety and patient care," said Dr. Wally Ghurabi, the emergency director of Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He planned to sleep in the E.R. throughout the weekend instead of commuting the 20 miles from his home in Torrance to the hospital.