What if you scheduled the end of the world, but nobody came? You would be in Los Angeles this weekend.
Seriously, for the past three months newspapers and politicians have been warning us about “carmageddon”: the gridlock that would kill the city when I-405 with its 500,000 cars/day is closed down for 53 hours. They’ve been predicting backups to San Diego. It has made the news in Canada and Taiwan. Airlines have offered flights from Burbank to Long Beach.
Well, we’re quite a few hours into the closure, and guess what. No real abnormal traffic so far. Don’t believe me? Look at Sigalert.com. We were out near the 101/405 interchange last night, and there was even less traffic than usual. The canyon roads are light. There are more news trucks and helicopters than cars. In fact, the news helicopters are getting those that live in the area upset.
Pearls Before Swine this week has it right. Fear is what sells newscasts. That’s why TV is hyping this so much.
Was there a risk of gridlock? Sure. But Angelinos are smart. Tell us about the problem, and we’ll avoid it. We’ve done it before (1984 Olympics), and we’ll do it again. Right now, us native LA folk are laughing at all those in a panic about this. So the 405 is closed. Who wants to go to West LA anyway?
Actually, that’s a significant folk. Of the people I’ve seen worried about carmageddon, most lived in West LA, not in the Valley. This wasn’t worrying the Valley at all. If we have to go to West LA, we know how to get there and alternate routes. We’ve got free-flowing streets, organized into a grid. But the Westside? A maze of twisty-little streets, always on the edge of gridlock. If anywhere was going to get their traffic mucked up by this, it was the Westside. So they panicked. And guess where most of the leaders and media types live? Yup, the Westside. So of course it was major news!
Now, would a crisis have been created without the dire warnings? Depends who you ask. I’m the type that believe there was a Y2K crisis, but it was averted by good planning, and thus people thought it was fake. This is probably the same thing. My worry is that when Carmageddon II happens next year (tearing down the other half of the bridge), people won’t believe the warnings.
One good thing from Carmageddon I, though…. we got some great articles on the history of the 405!