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Hunker down or flee? Los Angelenos gird for 'carmageddon' on I-405

With the shutdown of the key I-405 freeway in Los Angeles this weekend threatening 'carmageddon,' city residents and businesses are finding ways to help one another cope.

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“It’s a good thing this is happening on a weekend,” says Mr. Galang, eating a plate of hummus at Heart of India Café, right at the intersection of the 405 and 101, the city’s other busiest freeway. “Anyone that needs to go up and down the 405 is going to be dead in the water. I use this route all day every day, but lucky for me, I don’t work weekends.”

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The J. Paul Getty Museum, high on a crest above the 405 – which gets 1.2 million visitors a year, is closing down for one of its busiest weekends of the year, according to spokeswoman Melissa Abraham in L.A. Weekly. And local TV stations have been doing stories on tourists and wedding parties that planned their trips and festivities well before the closure was announced and now have few, if any alternatives.

One couple said they can’t change their wedding plans because several of their guests have already paid for airline tickets from overseas. They are shelling out their own money for nearby hotels to make sure these family members will make it to the wedding.

The LAPD, sheriffs, and other law enforcement and transportation officials say they have contingency plans for emergency vehicles and to route traffic around problem areas using additional helicopter surveillance and supplementary, on-street traffic controllers.

L.A. Department of Transportation will be monitoring all the signalized intersections to ensure the swift movement of traffic,” says Krishniah Murthy, executive director of transit project delivery for L.A. Metro in an online Q and A, posted as a public service.

There are also websites created by local residents to aid motorists – carmageddon.com and beatcarmageddon.com.

“Everything we saw was very doom and gloom, very stay at home, don't venture out,” says Anastasia Roark, one of the beatcarmageddon.com’s founders, in a YouTube video. “We just really thought it would be really fun to put together an all-encompassing survival guide to help people get through it and find some silver lining to enjoy it.”

Local news has also carried several stories about a new, free application for cellphones called Waze – which monitors car traffic in real time, and responds to the speed each car is going, rather than just relate conventional geographical information from on-street sensors and cameras.

“This will be one of the great new uses of this technology, because it relies on tens of thousands of users being monitored in real time and can help people find the route with the least traffic as if they were aerially above it, looking down and able to choose,” says Diann Eisnor, vice president of platform and partnerships for Waze.

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