SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Bulldozers and giant demolition machines were poised next to the San Diego (405) Freeway in Orange County Saturday, ready to close a massive interchange for the first time in Orange County history.
Drivers heading north out of San Diego to any point on the 405 Freeway past the L.A.-Orange county line was advised to stick to the Santa Ana (5) Freeway past Santa Ana, at least as far north as the Garden Grove (22) Freeway.
The bigger impact, however, was expected to be the more-complicated shutdown of both the south 405 and east 22 as they come out of Long Beach, caltrans engineers said.
Traffic patterns as far east as Riverside County may be affected be the closure of both directions of the 405 at the Garden Grove (22) Freeway interchange in Westminster, about five miles east of Long Beach and 15 miles northwest of the "El Toro Y."
"Crews making final preparations and we are ready to roll," said Caltrans spokesman Ted Nguyen.
Traffic on the 405 south and 22 east will be detoured off those freeways in Long Beach and directed to use surface streets for five miles.
Northbound 405 traffic was to be shunted off the freeway at Valley View Street, the last exit before the big overpass that is to be demolished.
Westbound 22 traffic will not be affected, other than the absence of northbound 405 traffic where the two freeways are conjoined approaching Long Beach.
Dozens of detour signs have been placed on surface streets in Long Beach, Seal Beach and Westminster, to guide motorists back to the freeways.
Ripple effects were expected on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, especially the construction zone between the 605 Freeway and Orange County, Nguyen said. "I would say that, with traffic patterns rippling out, this will have a major impact."
Traffic may also use the Newport (55) or Orange (57) freeways to the east, the Riverside (91) Freeway to the north, and even the Pomona (60) Freeway to the far north, to give the 405 closure a wide berth.
Electronic signs as far south as San Diego, and as far north as near Bakersfield, are spreading the word. "But there are going to be some some people who, for some situations, just have to be there."
Over the past week and a half, the hash tag "Bridge Bash" has been used about 1.5 million times on Twitter, said Ted Nguyen of OCTA, referring to the agency's name of this weekend's work on the busy freeway.
"On social media we're seeing a rapid growth in the number of people sharing content" about the project, Nguyen said.
The work was 10 months in the planning, Nguyen said. Caltrans engineers do not believe a 20-hour shutdown has ever been scheduled since the 405 opened across Orange County in about 1962.
Some residents are calling it the Orange Jam. Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who also serves on the OCTA board, quipped that the term Carmageddon was taken, so OCTA ended up with Bridge Bash.
Like other officials, Moorlach encouraged motorists to steer clear of the San Diego Freeway from 9 p.m. tonight through 5 p.m. Sunday.
The closure will let workers demolish the 50-year-old bridge that carried 22 east traffic off the joint 22/405 freeway next to the strawberry fields of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. It is part of a plan to widen the 405 and 22 freeways and build direct carpool connector bridges.
The same project is also adding carpool connectors and widening the other 22/405 interchange, three miles to the west in Long Beach.