(FOX 11 / CNS) "Ramp Jam'' came to an end today in West Los Angeles when the final ramp from Wilshire Boulevard to the San Diego (405) Freeway was opened, culminating a months-long construction effort aimed at reducing congestion at the popular interchange.
Construction crews removed barricades on the ramp from eastbound Wilshire to the northbound freeway at about 6 a.m. "I want to thank our Westside residents, businesses and commuters for their incredible patience throughout this project,'' county Supervisor Zev
Yaroslavsky said. "Today, their perseverance has been rewarded with a set of freeway ramps that are far safer and more efficient, just one of the many improvements they will be able to enjoy when our 405 project is completed in less than a year.''
The new ramp is wider and almost three times longer than the original, and acts as a "flyover'' that will carry motorists above the northbound freeway offramp to westbound Wilshire, according to Metro, which is overseeing the 405 Freeway construction project in the Sepulveda Pass.
The new configuration does away with the traffic-slowing weave of motorists trying to exit or enter the freeway using a single lane. The wider, 3,129-foot-long ramp is also expected to accommodate almost twice as many vehicles trying to enter the northbound freeway.
All of the other ramps at the interchange were also lengthened as part of the construction project, allowing them to accommodate more vehicles.
Construction at the interchange forced the closure of the Wilshire interchange ramps beginning in late July, prompting warnings from area transportation officials to avoid the area -- dubbing the closures "Ramp Jam.''
The ramp work was part of the three-year, $1 billion widening and reconstruction of 10 miles of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass.
From Hal Eisner:
Whether you call it "ramp jam" or "rampture" the construction project to improve the on and off ramps at Wilshire and the 405 is now history. The final flyover loop was opened at 6am this morning. Moments after that LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told me "this is a great day for the 405 project; a project that hasn't had a lot of great days."
To Yaroslavsky, what makes this a "great day" is the opening of the last onramp of 7 lengthened and looped in a way to improve traffic flow and safety. This is a project that started 17 months ago. The idea was to redesign traffic flow in a way to create less stress at this interchange which connects Wilshire Blvd (one of the busiest streets in the nation) with the 405 (the busiest freeway in the country).
It's completion is a milestone in the much larger 405 Improvement project that Yaroslavky calls "the mother of all public works projects" and he hasn't been very satisfied with it's progress. He says besides being "disruptive" it's a year past schedule and a 100 million dollars over budget and climbing.
He gives great thanks to the people who have had to live amidst all this construction. I, for one, can tell you there has been great unhappiness from those who live in the Sepulveda Pass. I was included by some of them on an email thread connecting various residents together. They'd write each other daily with their complaints. To say they've been angry may be an understatement. But, Yaroslavsky says, what's been done and is still going on is important to our transportation needs in the future.
So, where is this big 405 widening project now? Yaroslavsky and METRO officials with whom I've spoken say it's 85% complete. Later this month the Sunset offramp, which has been close for some time, will be reopened. And, in December, the rebuild Sunset, Skirball and Mulholland Bridges will be completely reopened to the public.
The Wilshire Loops are done. The final loop that opened at 6am this morning - that's the one on eastbound Wilshire to northbound 405 is 4 times longer than it's predecessor and can handle a capacity of 300% more than was the prior ramp was able to accommodate. There will be some final touches, but the heavy lifting is over. And, now maybe -- just maybe -- the drive for those who pack into 87,000 cars and trucks that use this interchange each day will be better.