Los Angeles was designed for cars. Whether we like or not and regardless of the attempts made to put in alternate modes of transportation, we prefer the freedom of our automobiles. Driving is thoroughly ingrained in our culture, in our thoughts and expressions. Most notably, this is reflected in our veneration of our freeways. One does not take “I-5” or get on “Highway 101”, you take THE Hollywood Freeway, THE 10, THE 405. The absolute use of the definitive article endows our major roadways with personalities, and for good reason. They are our life blood.
The city sprawls through valleys and over mountain ranges, and traffic flows through these areas, much like the fluid of a circulatory system, to connect branches of businesses and commerce and families and recreation destinations and more.
One of the most vital arteries is the 405, which sweeps from the one narrow pass between the San Fernando and San Joaquin valleys all the way down the coast to the center of Orange County. For several miles, it is the only large thoroughfare through the Santa Monica Mountains Wilderness, which dramatically bisects the city. The nearest highways are 5 or 6 miles to the east or west, so the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass is notoriously crowded at most hours of the day and night.
In desperate need of more room for more cars, the freeway is being widened, and much like open heart surgery to put in a stint, CalTrans is shutting the entire area down for two days and three nights this weekend to perform the more drastic remodeling necessary to create more lanes.
This is potentially catastrophic for anyone trying to get anywhere, and has been dubbed “Carmageddon”. Some spell it “Karmageddon”. Some, like me, hope that everyone will go out of town for the weekend, and we’ll have wide open freeways like we did for the 1984 Olympics, which also caused local panic that the traffic would be gridlocked.
In any case, I took the opportunity to take a hike on the fire road that parallels the 405 to get some photos of the preparation for the operation and find three caches placed since the last time I was up there.
Dodder and a hilltop mansion: