Campus prepares for weekend closure of 405
By Alison Hewitt September 20, 2012 Category: Campus News
"Carmageddon II" comes to Los Angeles the week after thousands of students return to UCLA, when the campus's weekday population will soar from summer lows to roughly 60,000. Bruins are being encouraged to plan ahead, stay local and avoid unnecessary trips when freeway construction closes 10 miles of the nearby 405 freeway from late Friday, Sept. 28, to 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1.
With 15,000 to 20,000 people expected on campus during Carmageddon II weekend, including about 10,500 students living in UCLA residence halls, the university's preparations have expanded compared to plans during the first 405 closure in July 2011. As before, the university will maintain access to its hospitals and trauma centers and will be open on Monday morning, regardless of whether the construction finishes on time. Employees and students are advised to coordinate with supervisors and professors in case traffic Monday morning causes unusual delays.
"The 405 closure will have an impact on campus and neighborhood traffic, so we're notifying the community to eat, shop and play locally," said Renée Fortier, the director of UCLA Transportation. "We also encourage Bruins to allow additional time if traveling to campus early Monday morning and rideshare if possible."
Los Angeles County Metro will use the 53-hour closure to demolish a portion of the Mulholland Drive Bridge as part of a $1 billion project to widen the 405 for a carpool lane by late 2013. Metro plans to begin closing ramps at 7 p.m. on Friday, before lane closures begin at 10 p.m. and the full closure kicks in at midnight. Metro expects the 405 will remain closed until 5 a.m. on Monday, with ramps closed until 6 a.m., which could cut into the morning commute.
Carmageddon II begins one week after students move back to campus and the day after classes start. The end of orientation week's True Bruin Welcome will provide events to help keep students occupied on or near campus. UCLA's Office of Residential Life anticipates hosting 9,000 students, overwhelmingly on-campus residents, at its annual Bruin Fest party on Friday night, Sept. 28. Other events throughout the weekend aim to keep students and neighbors engaged locally, including programs at UCLA's Fowler and Hammer museums that are part of Los Angeles' "Artmageddon" weekend.
The campus and health system emergency operations centers will open for the weekend as a precaution, with duty officers staffing both centers for the duration and additional responders on-call in case extensive coordination is needed. UCLA will also have representatives in the city of Los Angeles' Emergency Operations Center downtown.
Hospitals to remain open, accessible
About 250 employees from the campus's two hospitals, along with members of the UCLA Police Department are expected to bunk on or near campus to ensure they are available in the event of an emergency, and staff from the Office of Residential Life will have the option of doing so if traffic becomes overwhelming. Though rooms in the now-occupied student residence halls were used for staff during the first Carmageddon, this year employees will stay at the UCLA Guest House and Tiverton House, at a converted sorority house, and at local hotels.
Maintaining normal operations at the campus's Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is the highest priority, university officials said. Patients and visitors are being warned to expect delays if they try to get to the hospital, but access will be maintained, said Kurt Kainsinger, manager of the Disaster Resource Center in the UCLA Health System's Office of Emergency Preparedness.
In addition to housing key staff nearby, the hospital is stocking extra medical supplies, contracting with backup medical helicopter services and postponing non-emergency surgeries, Kainsinger said. The hospital also scheduled employees who live locally to work Carmageddon weekend when possible, arranged shuttle buses to transport staff members who commute from areas north of the closure, and has begun working closely with physicians to identify patients who may be good candidates for early discharge before the closure.
"We'll be ready and fully prepared to handle any emergency," said Kainsinger, who noted that surgeons, midwives, nurses, technicians, nutritionists, plumbers and air-conditioning repair staff will be among the employees on hand to ensure the hospitals function normally.
UCLA traffic control officers will be on duty to preserve access to the hospital and to keep the campus clear of cut-through traffic if needed.
UCLA officials have begun ongoing outreach to remind staff, faculty, students and hospital patients to avoid unnecessary trips. They're using multiple channels, including campus-wide emails, news stories, new-student orientations, move-in weekend activities, blogs, posters, table tents and more. Students who plan to leave for the weekend will continue to be advised to leave late Thursday or early Friday.
By the numbers:
- In July 2011, UCLA had an estimated 8,000–10,000 people on campus during Carmageddon weekend. Since Carmageddon II takes place during the school year, the campus anticipates 15,000–20,000 people.
- About 10,500 students will be living on campus by Carmageddon II weekend. About 1,450 students also live in graduate housing that is within walking distance to campus.
- Approximately 5,000 commuting students live north of the closure and would likely travel through the Sepulveda Pass. That's about 13 percent of UCLA's roughly 40,000–41,000 students.
- 20 percent of UCLA's 26,000 employees come from north of the closure, though many cobble together commutes that avoid the 405.
L.A. Metro video on the 405 Closure II:
UCLA Newsroom and UCLA Broadcast Studio video on first 'Carmageddon':