LA Braces for Carmageddon II
As Los Angeles prepares for the looming Carmageddon II this weekend, public officials including the Metropolitan Transportation Agency and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are ensure that the public takes the 405 Freeway closure warnings seriously.
But instead of instilling fear into Angelenos like they did during July 2011's Carmageddon, public officials are trying to send a different message: embrace the weekend 405 shutdown rather than fear it.
Brian Taylor, the co-author of a UCLA study titled "Why It Wasn't Carmageddon" concluded that "dramatic messages of fear" will not prevent Angelenos from getting in their cars this weekend.
"We've heard this disaster message before," Taylor said.
Instead, he recommends using civic pride rather than fear to motivate Angelenos to stay off the road.
And city officials agree with the expert's recommendation.
"We're not going to say 'Folks, look, we're going to have the worst traffic ever,'" said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "What we're going to say is: 'What about another day without a car in LA? What about Angelenos accepting the challenge to stay out of their car?'"
The MTA has changed their approach to the closure. They modified warning signs from "EXPECT BIG DELAY" to "EXPECT DELAY." They have even altered their public Carmageddon message from "Plan ahead. Avoid the area or stay home" to "Plan Ahead. Avoid the area, or eat, shop, and play locally."
Local businesses hope to be the biggest benefactors of this new approach. During Carmageddon I, local businesses complained of losing revenue.
Jay Handal, who owns San Gennaro Cafe in Brentwood, said that only about 8 people showed up at his restaurant last year. But this year, he is hoping for more customers during Carmageddon II weekend.
Other local businesses are offering 10 to 50 percent discounts during the weekend to attract customers during the closure. There are even organized pub crawls on the Westide of Los Angeles on during the weekend.
However, the toned down message does not mean that the agency is taking the closure any less seriously than last time. In fact, they have spent $150,000 on advertisements to inform the public about the 405 closure. Last year, the city spent $100,000.
But Dave Sotero, an MTA employee, is still concerned about about the public's reaction to the closure despite the calmed down messages. "We just don't want (the public) to become complacent," Sotero said.
The freeway renovation, which is part of a $1 billion project to improve transportation in Los Angeles, is expected to be complete by 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning.