Bennington Vale residents, however, continue to press forward with their class action lawsuit against Camping for false advertising. But as the redevelopment programs and mass burials of suicide victims subside, the quaint Southern California community faces a newer and more serious threat: “Carmageddon,” the complete closure of the 405 Freeway this weekend.
The End of Life as We Know It...for a Weekend
The 53-hour closure begins July 18 at 7:00 p.m. and ends July 18 at 6:00 a.m. Drivers are being asked to stay home during this time to avoid creating gridlock during the shutdown of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, one of the main connectors to routes in and out of San Narciso County.
The project is part of the $1 billion initiative to add HOV lanes and 18 miles of sound walls. In order to accomplish the task, three bridges must be taken down.
One official noted, “For as inconvenient as it will be, I suppose there’s some good to come out it. Those bridges would’ve collapsed on their own soon enough, killing hundreds of travelers and transients, so we can at least say we’re being proactive. But the public needs to understand that 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.”
San Narciso County Residents React to Carmageddon Prophesies
News of the 405 closure caused consternation and outright panic among all walks of life in San Narciso County.
Some of the more dogmatic Christian groups in the area, still clinging to their faith in Harold Camping’s end-of-the-world scenarios, said that the 405 shut down, in many respects, falls in line with his apocalyptic visions.
Haskell Sparrowslanding, an adjunct professor of fundamentalist theology at San Narciso College explained:
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the media are calling it ‘Carmageddon.’ The word ‘Armageddon’ itself comes from the Hebrew ‘Har Megiddo,’ meaning ‘Mountain of Megiddo.’ It was a small hill on which ancient forts were built to guard the main highway, the Via Maris, which connected Ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia. Megiddo was believed to be the location of a great and decisive battle. The parallels are eerie, don’t you think? We in San Narciso sit in a fairly isolated suburban paradise -- a fortress against the urban rabble beyond, if you will -- guarding the main highway, which is analogous to the 405. When this road is closed, it’s entirely possible that we’ll get invaded by visitors from places like Los Angeles, Bakersfield or, God help us, Lancaster and Victorville, who can use other highways to get here. That could be the end. We simply don’t have the law enforcement resources to handle that kind of, uh, diversity.”
Several local churches have petitioned the governor’s office to mobilize the National Guard to help defend the county from what Sparrowslanding has termed “Car Megiddo.” They have received no response.
Mayor DiPresso, while discounting the religious implications, supported many of Sparrowslanding’s objections.
“If you were to ask me how San Narciso would feel about the utter annihilation of the 405 altogether, I’d tell you it would be a welcome development,” DiPresso said. “Our community is 100-percent self-contained. The idea of cutting us off from the rest of Southern California would be fantastic. But that’s not going to happen. Not this way. We need the 405 because it actually diverts traffic away from us. We could be seriously screwed this weekend, with much larger ramifications for the future.”
DiPresso fears that the freeway closure will so severely limit travel that people from other cities may try to reach San Narciso using the 5, 14, 210, 118 or 126.
“Haskell’s right,” DiPresso continued. “If all these people decide to come to our county for its shopping, water sports, hiking or country clubs, they might discover its rare beauty and try to come back more often. Then we end up with a mix of ethnically and economically diverse aliens within our gates. Property values would plummet within seconds. Food trucks might show up, bringing with them hipsters and community college students and immigrants. These lower middle class people are like viruses with shoes, food stamps and welfare checks. Our residents would move away. Yoyodyne might relocate, taking our white collar workforce with it. And in a matter of months, San Narciso becomes another Beverly Hills -- an overrated inner city covered in cosmetics but surrounded by slums. I can’t allow that.”
DiPresso also warned that some of the more questionable fringes of the county -- which officials continue to dispute ownership of -- could filter down to Bennington Vale during the 405 closure.
“If the residents of the North Viaduct area or Hobo Gardens can’t get down south easily, they could show up at Lake Inverarity or the Buffum Plaza Mall. Let’s face it, you don’t stock a Saks Fifth Avenue with Sears merchandise.”
Caltrans Calls Concerns Exaggerated
Transportation administrators say that San Narciso’s worries are overblown and unrealistic. According to Caltrans, 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 simply 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 need to be?”
(c) 2011. All stories are works of satire and parody.