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Quakes, riots, Lohan and now ... Carpocalypse!

By Roy Rivenburg, Special to CNN
  • The 53-hour closure of a stretch of freeway is causing alarm in L.A., Roy Rivenburg says
  • This isn't simply about closing a highway; it's about disrupting a way of life, he says
  • Aren't there alternate routes? Yes, but they require a detour through Arizona, he says
  • Rivenburg: Psychologists strongly advise against quitting the freeway habit cold turkey
  • Los Angeles
  • Commuting

Editor's note: Roy Rivenburg is a Southern California-based writer and editor.

(CNN) -- Los Angeles is no stranger to big disasters -- massive earthquakes, riots, Lindsay Lohan. But closing a 10-mile stretch of freeway for 53 hours, as the city will do on Interstate 405 this weekend for a bridge demolition? That's a different matter entirely.

It's Carmageddon.

To help outsiders understand how a freeway shutdown could evoke such dread, the L.A. Department of Apocalyptic Scenarios has prepared this guide to the most frequently asked questions.

Why is it called Carmageddon?

Because the National Weather Service refused to lend the city one of its hurricane nicknames. And because "Traffic Jam Vince" didn't adequately convey the horror of a total freeway meltdown.

Isn't everyone overreacting? It's just one freeway.

If your heart had a blockage, would you say, "It's just one ventricle"? Freeways are what make L.A. tick. We don't have an NFL team (and the Dodgers are on life support); we have the 5, the 405, the 10 and the 110. And we don't have seasons; we have morning rush hour and afternoon rush hour.

Business owners say warnings will frighten customers away

So, this isn't simply about closing a highway. It's about disrupting a way of life. The 405 is to L.A. what the Cubs are to Chicago: totally infuriating, yet we keep coming back for more.

Aren't there alternate routes?

L.A. faces "carmageddon"
Map: 405 closure

Yes, but they require a detour through Arizona. There was a brief glimmer of hope when JetBlue offered $4 flights between Burbank and Long Beach, but the trips sold out in a few hours.

Why don't people just stay home for the weekend?

And do what? Read? Don't make us laugh.

So how will residents cope?

Psychologists strongly advise against quitting the freeway habit cold turkey. Public service announcements urge motorists to spend at least one hour a day parked in the driveway with the motor running, simultaneously sending text messages and shooting at their neighbor's cars in simulated road rage.

Why weren't people given more warning about the freeway shutdown?

It's true that most of the publicity was fairly recent. However, the event was clearly prophesied in the Bible, which mentions the Four Hyundais of the Apocalypse appearing near the end of time.

What happens after the freeway reopens?

The movie version, of course.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roy Rivenburg.

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