Monday, February 7, 2011

Complete 405 Freeway Closures Scheduled, Regular Commuters May Not Notice the Difference

SAN NARCISO, Calif. -- The San Diego Freeway (I-405) will be completely closed down Wednesday and Thursday nights, following several evenings of partial closure, as part of a three-and-a-half-year, $277-million project to bring the freeway’s capacity to 1997 population levels. Caltrans officials say that with the complex, overly bureaucratic contracting standards, it can take more than a decade to build out highway lanes to accommodate increases in both population and traffic.

One official noted, “These are expensive and cumbersome undertakings. For every segment of the road, multiple government contractors are needed. Cost plus models don’t begin to describe how difficult this can be. As an example, for every one actual worker, you’ve got to have a field supervisor, a lead supervisor, a driver for the truck, a union representative, two men to hand out orange safety vests, one man to hold up a caution sign, three men to hold up the shovels, and so on. All of these people are required to monitor that single worker. So you can see how long a project of this scope can last.”

A former land rights agent told The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript that “by the time they [Caltrans] get the lanes widened, another million motorists will have come along. So, they’re always ten years behind. Perhaps if we found a way to control the population so that it grows at rates this unwieldy state government bureaucracy can manage, this would all just go away.”

The good news, according to Caltrans, is that with the constant stream of dense and impenetrable traffic at all hours of the days and nights now, motorists trapped on the freeway during the scheduled closures may not even notice.

“Drivers have grown accustomed to sitting at a standstill on the 405 for hours on end,” said Caltrans. “It’s likely that they’ll mistake the closure for a sig alert and just wait it out. I’m just surprised that with California’s economy and unemployment rate, so many drivers are still crowding the freeways. Seriously, where do they have to be?”

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