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News, Transportation, Santa Monica, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Lax

"Century Crunch" Underway Thourgh Monday Morning

Posted Jul. 26, 2014, 9:04 am

Staff Report

The 57-hour closure of a stretch of Century Boulevard is underway as workers tear down an outdated bridge, and continues through 6 a.m. Monday.

People planning to travel to Los Angeles International Airport this weekend were urged to give themselves plenty of time and consider alternate routes, or public transportation.

The so-called "Century Crunch" closure began just before 10 p.m. Friday according to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo, as crews started shutting down the popular route to allow the demolition of a defunct railroad bridge at Century and Aviation boulevards.

Reports from the scene said the initial work was delayed as the intersection remained open 30 minutes after the closure was slated to begin at 9 p.m.

Once closed, Century Boulevard will remain blocked until 6 a.m. Monday.

"We need to bring down this old defunct railroad freight bridge to put up a new aerial light rail station," said Marc Littman, a spokesman for Metro, at the demolition site this morning.

"Ultimately, you will get to see a lot of progress and it will be easier to get in and out of LAX, but for now, you're going to have to put up with this inconvenience this weekend," Transportation officials have been warning about the project for weeks, urging travelers to plan ahead, while encouraging people who don't urgently need to be in the area to avoid it altogether.

"Angelenos, we've been through this before, and we're asking for your patience as we tear down an old bridge to make way for a state-of-the-art light rail system," County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Metro Board of Directors, said last month when the closure was announced.

"So, we're asking you to re-route your drive for two days at the end of July. In return, we're going to build you a system that will ultimately connect our urban center to LAX and the South Bay."

The bridge demolition will make way for a light rail station for the Crenshaw/LAX line, which will connect the Metro Green and Expo lines.

In the meantime, the weekend-long closure could cause traffic headaches for airport-bound travelers and motorists around the Westchester area. Metro officials said about 92,800 motorists travel through the Century/Aviation intersection every day.

With Century Boulevard blocked, motorists heading toward the airport will be diverted north on La Cienega Boulevard, west on Manchester Avenue, then south on Airport Boulevard and back to Century Boulevard. Motorists leaving LAX will take the same detour in reverse.

Lanes will also be reduced on Aviation Boulevard during the demolition.

Metro officials also noted that once the bridge is demolished, Century Boulevard will remain reduced by one lane in each direction for the next 16 months, leaving three lanes each way.

Metro officials will deploy a new $1.2 million mobile command center during Century Crunch to help monitor traffic and better deploy resources to affected areas during construction.

The high-tech command center, purchased in December with funding from the Department of Homeland Security, will provide officials with real-time operational information, according to Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project Director Charles Beauvoir.

"The idea is to keep things moving well and adapting very quickly to each situation. ... We want the overall experience to be a very well-run machine,'' Beauvoir said. "Having it on site and real-time is immeasurable."

The Southern California 511 service, which offers traffic updates on users' cell phones or over the Internet, will provide information specific to the closure. Motorists can call 511 on their cellphones and, after an automated greeting, say "Century Crunch."

The service will then provide information on detour routes and updates on the closure.

Callers can also say "traffic" to receive updated traffic information for roads leading to the airport.

Real-time traffic maps and public-transit alternatives will also be available at the www.Go511.com website. Smartphone users can also download a Go511 app from the iTunes and Google Play stores.

The 8.5-mile, $2.058 billion Crenshaw/LAX line will run from the Metro Expo line at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards and connect with the Green line near the airport.

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