NEW: Authorities cite three people who try to enter the freeway
The feared traffic tie-ups do not materialize
A 10-mile section of Interstate 405 was closed for the weekend
A portion of a bridge came down as workers were demolishing another part of it
Southern California motorists honked their horns cheerfully as authorities reopened 10 miles of the nation’s busiest highway ahead of schedule late Sunday night.
The latest phase in a massive project that led to the weekend closure of a large swath of Interstate 405 ended hours ahead of the Monday morning commute.
Southern California officials had dubbed the project “Carmageddon II.” But the nightmare traffic tie-ups that prompted the fittingly Hollywood-worthy name did not materialize as motorists either stayed home or chose alternate routes.
California Highway Patrol said it cited three people who tried to enter the closed section of the freeway early Sunday. But overall, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared the project a “resounding success.”
“Our hope and expectation was that it would be Carmaheaven 2,” Villaraigosa said, noting that a weekend-long highway shutdown last year had proceeded without a hitch, despite dire forecasts. “That hope and expectation came to be realized.”
The 405, as it’s locally called, connects suburban San Fernando Valley with Los Angeles International Airport. It also stretches into the well-to-do neighborhoods of west Los Angeles, such as Bel Air and Brentwood.
The massive transportation project’s main aim is to install what Villaraigosa said would be the “longest … carpool lane in the nation” on the oft-packed highway.
The project did see an unscripted moment Saturday, when a section of the famed 50-year-old Mulholland Drive Bridge – a fixture in the Los Angeles freeway-scape – narrowly missed workers demolishing another part of it.
Crews had planned to take down part of the bridge to make room for a wider roadway. The bridge will be reconstructed.
“On an operation of this size, of this magnitude, pieces come down of all different sizes and shapes,” Dan Kulka of Kiewit Construction told CNN affiliate KABC. “We did not anticipate this, although it’s not unusual for a big piece to come down like that.”
CNN’s Michael Martinez and Kyung Lah contributed to this report.