Residents of Los Angeles were petrified in the weeks leading up to "Carmageddon," a supposedly doomsday event beginning Friday when LA shut down a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 40, one of the most heavily traveled highways in the country. Celebrities were enlisted to warn the masses over Twitter. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was quoted as saying, "It will be an absolute nightmare." Perhaps even more ominously, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said about the Sepulveda Pass, "Stay the heck out of here." JetBlue sold tickets for $4 to desperate citizens -- and $1 more for First Class. For the unaffected Americans throughout the rest of the country, 'Carmageddon' captured their vision of Southern California as a place as much at the mercy of its gridlocked traffic as early settlers out West were at the mercy of natural elements.
We love nothing more than an apocalypse. But all of the hellish predictions have been falling flat, as Angelenos reported mystifying little traffic, and even joked it was the fastest commute of their lives. "The 405 was weirdly empty, but so were many of the side roads that officials had feared would be jammed as motorists searched for detours," the New York Times reports. "Carmagedon? More like Carmaheaven. No traffic in L.A.," tweeted Chip Dorsh, who said he breezed through a canyon road to get from his job in Culver City to the San Fernando Valley. He told the Associated Press, "When I left work, it was like a no man's land." Another woman told the Los Angeles Times of her 30-minute drive to LAX, "It was a breeze."
Oh well. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa explained the non-apocalypse to the Times, “There has been a lot of hype, and well-intentioned hype, because we wanted to make sure people really got the message: stay at home!” But there is warning for the drivers to remain vigilant: as the Daily Mail notes, "there are fears that the worst traffic chaos will hit the city today and tomorrow." So perhaps we may get our Carmageddon after all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.