Really. That’s what they are calling it. The main north south freeway (Interstate to those not residing in California) in Los Angeles that is the furthest west running through some of the most expensive real estate in America outside of Manhattan Island will be closed this Friday night until Monday at 6 AM because they have to take a bridge down. They are not blowing it up. They are taking it down.
In a city that lives by and in the car, this is now known as Carmageddon. Millions of dollars are being spent on contingency plans to get people from one place to another. 20 additional fire units will be on duty to respond to 911 calls. All police vacation and days off have been cancelled. Additional 911 operators have been mobilized. The hillsides that abut the freeway will be patrolled by officers on all terrain vehicles, the better to respond.
It is phenomenal how much television, radio, print media, and internet time has been spent for the last two months girding the loins of the city for this moment in its history. One would think it was a World War. Terrorist attacks have had less coverage than these two historic days in the City of Angeles.
Jet Blue offered, and immediately sold out, $4.00 plane rides from the San Fernando Valley Airport at Burbank to Long Beach on the other side of the closure. It will be a 45-minute flight, shortest in the airline’s history. All are being urged to “get to know your local neighborhood merchants” rather than venture to the west side of the city.
The cost is cannot be yet be computed. Yet no expense will be spared the public is assured, to be certain that the least inconvenience will be suffered by the fewest. City carpools and police escorts will assure that essential workers, such as hospital personnel will get to their jobs on time. Commentators on all the news channels predict chaos on the streets around the freeway as motorists seek alternate routes.
The total mileage of freeway closed?
Less than 10.
Los Angeles may be the only city with a mountain range running through it. The San Fernando Valley—which has been trying hard to break away from the megalopolis for years--is where most of the people live that actually work for a living or are married and have children or, alternatively, work in the pornographic film industry which, in an uneasy truce with those people, resides there as well. The south side of the mountain is the heart of Los Angeles, most of its institutions of higher learning and its medical community, and of course Hollywood and access to The Malibu Beach Colony where many of the folks in that industry live.
For 48 hours, beginning at midnight tonight if you live in the “Valley” and work on the south side of town, you can’t get there from here as the man once said. You, of course, have to have a weekend shift to work to be truly affected by all this, but they will spare no expense to be sure those who do and those with fewer brains than a chicken that will go out there anyway will be safe.
The people on skid row, almost proudly known as “The Capital of Homeless America” will have no more to eat and no better place to sleep because of the millions spent. Schools will still lay off teachers this fall, potholes will go unfilled, gangs will fight, people will die violently at the same rate as any other weekend, but the people who think they need to traverse those 10 miles of I-405 will be well served and well protected. The press will be there to cover it live from beginning to end as if it were the Oscars to be sure that they are. After all this is Hollywood, right?
Now isn’t this a great country, this America?