It’s not just a video game anymore.
This weekend, 11 miles of the I-405 freeway in Los Angeles will be closed for 53 hours for the demolition of the 51-year-old Mulholland Bridge. The freeway connects L.A.’s Westside and the San Fernando Valley; on an average weekend, it carries 500,000 cars.
Even the New York Times is calling it Carmageddon. (Predictably, the Times misspelled “Westside.” It’s one word in L.A.)
L.A.’s mayor didn’t sugarcoat his warning at a June 6 press conference:
“There’s gridlock on the 405 virtually any time of the day, but particularly during the rush hour, and if you think it's bad now, let me just make something absolutely clear: On July 16 and 17, it will be an absolute nightmare,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Other city leaders are doing their best to sound upbeat. On Metro.net, L.A.’s public-transit hub, two Metro officials offered soothing reassurances that “the project is on schedule” and if Angelenos will just stay home over the weekend, “everything will go smoothly.”
Readers may be less than heartened to learn that one of those officials, Metro’s executive director of highway projects, is named Doug Failing. I did not make this up.
This is the second coming for carmageddon: The word was reportedly coined (from car and Armageddon) by a KNX Newsradio anchor, Denise Fondo, for the August 2010 visit to L.A. by President Obama. As you may have heard, Los Angeles survived that event.
This year’s Carmageddon has its own Facebook page and an app, powered by Israeli startup Waze, that relies on crowdsourced traffic information. There’s a website and Twitter feed that encourage bars and restaurants in the Carmageddon Zone to offer discounts “to weary travelers.” Oh, and the L.A. Times has a special Carmageddon Twitter feed, too. (“Two words: surface streets.”)
Another local paper, the LA Weekly, has been counting down to Carmageddon with almost unseemly glee. On June 30, the Weekly published a Carmageddon Q&A headlined “Will It Suck? Yes It Will.” A sample exchange:
Q: What if I have a medical emergency?
A: Plan ahead.
Q: But --
A: Plan ahead.
And it wouldn’t be an impending disaster without a Hitler-meme video, would it? This one is particularly well executed (you should pardon the expression), and extra-hilarious if you know L.A. well enough to catch all the Southland references.
(Hat tip: MJF)
Ever wonder why Southern Californians put “the” in front of freeway numbers and Northern Californians don’t? Language Hat provided a semi-official explanation back in 2008.