A 50-year-old shortcut on the is to begin disappearing next weekend, as the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass freeway widening project claims part of the northbound collector ramps at Wilshire Boulevard.
All eight ramps at the interchange will be shut down -- two at a time -- to rebuild the 1950s-style cloverleaf-style interchange, which sits on bridges above Sepulveda and Wilshire boulevards, Metro officials said. Wags have dubbed the project "the Rampture" and "octojam."
The project is expected to be completed by Sept. 20.
"There is no way to put 'lipstick on this pig,' as the old saying goes," said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in an internet discusion of the shutdown. Commenters asked about the project's value to the community, its completion schedule, and how to access project updates.
Contractors are to permanently seal the ramp next Friday to begin installing a new fly-over structure that will eventually separate exiting and entering traffic, Metro officials said.
, freeway traffic heading north on the 405 cannot use the westbound ramp to exit to Wilshire Boulevard towards Brentwood or the V.A. Hospital. Motorists are advised to exit the 405 at Santa Monica Boulevard and use surface streets.
And traffic heading west on Wilshire from the UCLA area will not be able to enter the northbound 405 at Wilshire, but will be detoured up Sepulveda to the next on-ramps, near Sunset Boulevard.
Construction on the Wilshire ramps will continue 24 hours per day and 7 days per week until they are complete, metro officials said.
The new interchange will mean northbound 405 freeway traffic will not be able to "sneak through" the Wilshire collector ramps to bypass stopped cars on the freeway mainline lanes.
Here are some of the questions addressed by Yaroslavsky in his online chat:
In response to a commenter who asked whether he thought the project would be worth the temporary inconvenience, Yaroslavsky replied:
"Yes, I really do--especially the Wilshire/405 ramps. This is one of the most substandard ramp configurations of any highway in America. When this project is done, people getting on or off the 405 at Wilshire will be able to do it in a safer and less time-consuming manner. I've stopped counting the number of times I've taken my life into my hands trying to get off the 405 at Wilshire. In addition, the HOV lane will add capacity and will complete the HOV system from Burbank Blvd in the Valley to Orange County. I recognize that this is an incredibly disruptive project."
On the subject of project completion:
"Yes, the project contractor is incentivized to complete the ramp reconstruction within the 90 day schedule. There are also financial penalties if they exceed the schedule... The contractor is incentivized to finish early, so the completion date may move up. However, for now our scheduled completion is Sept. 20."
Addressing inquiries about how the public can keep up with the project's details:
"Project updates and details are available on the project website, metro.net/405. The project also utilizes social media through Facebook, Twitter and Nixle. These pages are updated at least three times a day. The Source, Metro's blog, is also a great location for stories and updates. My own blog, ZevWeb, also does regular stories on the 405 project. For commuters, Go511.com and 511 are available to get live traffic updates and detour information."
Regarding the VA closing its gates to through-traffic:
"The VA has decided to close their northwest gates at Gorhman and Einsenhower for the duration of the first 90 day ramp closure. I, and my office, have been in contact with the VA in the hope that they would reconsider this decision. This is still a work in progress, and I hope that the VA will reconsider their decision after the project gets underway. At the end of the day this is the VA's decision to make."
To avoid confusion between this weekend's closures and those scheduled for the rest of the summer:
"Starting June 22 you will not be able to access the northbound 405 on-ramp from westbound Wilshire. This ramp will be closed for 90 days. You will be detoured to northbound Sepulveda to get on the 405 at the Moraga on-ramp. Construction activities are occuring this weekend that require the closure of all Wilshire on and off-ramps. These closures are required to prepare for the demolition scheduled to start on June 22. These closures of all Wilshire ramps are only scheduled for this weekend at night."
Read the full archived conversation here.
-- contributed to this report.