Jul 29, 2014

Emergency Responders Prepare for 405 Freeway Closure

Extra firefighters and paramedics as well as additional buses and free rides on the Red Line are planned during mid-July weekend.

Emergency Responders Prepare for 405 Freeway Closure

As Valley commuters plan for traffic congestion when crews tear up and rebuild a section of the 405 Freeway in mid-July, public safety agencies are teaming up to handle potential problems arising from the lack of freeway access.

Starting just after midnight July 15, the San Diego (405) Freeway will be shut down in both directions from Getty Center Drive to the 101 Freeway for 53 hours, so that the south side of the Mulholland Bridge can be demolished.

The freeway section is expected to reopen at 5 a.m. July 18, according to Metro officials.

"The has developed a unified plan with our partner agencies, including the LAPD and CHP, to ensure we provide emergency response and medical services to the communities in the impact area," said LAFD Assistant Chief Patrick Butler in an e-mail to Encino Patch. "The LAFD specifically will deploy an additional 150 firefighters, paramedics and command staff to ensure that we maintain proper coverage and response times."

The bridge replacement is part of a $1-billion project, funded by local, state and federal money, that will add a carpool lane on the northbound freeway between the Santa Monica (10) and Ventura (101) freeways, along with upgrading freeway ramps and sound walls.

To help alleviate some of the congestion, Metro plans to offer free subway rides on the Red Line under the Hollywood Hills and extra buses on major east-west streets, such as Ventura, Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards, according to NBC

During peak times of the closure, the Fire Department will also have additional ambulances, fire trucks and personnel augmenting the existing resources in the area, Butler said.

Planning ahead is the key to avoiding traffic mishaps, said Butler, who is based at the department's Division 3 Headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

"There may be heavy traffic on the surface streets during the closure, so residents should plan ahead and avoid making unnecessary trips during these two and a half days of closures," he said. "The less we impact the roadways, the better it is for our emergency personnel to access areas."

Butler also advised residents to get the word out to their neighbors, visit the LAFD website for safety tips and stay home or avoid the area, if possible. He encouraged local residents to have additional drinking water and food in case of an emergency.

"If all residents plan ahead, avoid the area or stay home for that period, we will have a safe weekend and ensure that this project is a success," Butler said.

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