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Carmaggedon Over 405 LA Freeway Reopens Early Garners Kiewit Hefty Bonus

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by copythis

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In The News

While "Carmaggedon" reports flooded news stations for over a month, the devastation that was going to cripple Los Angeles and its residents never happened. In fact the 405 freeway project is finished--way ahead of schedule. There's good reason for early completion: Aside from heavy fines for every minute the roads weren't reopened, 'early bird' Kiewit construction got a $300,000 bonus.

It was an unusual event to begin with: What was supposed to become a simple freeway closure, albeit not in the norm, suddenly got dubbed with a nickname. What became a simple event got dubbed "Carmaggedon", the name in itself arming media and news stations with one hell of a devastation. As it turned out, it was just another day or two in L.A. -- or, actually, the most quiet days Los Angeles has seen in years. Everything is done in "Carmaggedon" Part I: In fact things are, amazingly, ahead of schedule with Cal Trans workers who had the 405 prepared for re-opening well before the slated nighttime hours where Los Angeles residents would again get to move freely on July 17.

405 freeway traffic started actually got moving just after noon on Sunday, after the freeway had been shut down according to Cal Trans schedule before midnight on Friday, July 15. Freeway work was finished nearly a full day ahead of schedule. All in all, the Los Angeles 'disaster' turned into less than 36 hours of work and not a single problem -- let alone any jam.

Of course, nothing occurs without motivation -- and not just motivation from Los Angeles drivers who don't want to be stuck in any potential freeway jam from hell. If it seems like freeway projects tend to drag on for days -- in scenarios that can make L.A. drivers wonder what exactly workers, who don't appear to be doing a lot -- are actually doing, when that 'work' seems to go on for days on end. Workers in the "Carmaggedon" project had very good reason to have their asses in gear. Perhaps the motivation of keeping their job -- because the ultimate motivator for companies is always money. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was ready to fine the L.A. freeway project contractor -- Kiewit Infrastructure West -- for every minute the 405 was late in finished work.

No matter what Villaraigosa may claim, lack of L.A. traffic and drivers on the road probably has less to do with fast construction rates -- and smoothness in the construction project -- than the money that would have been lost. And the money that was saved.

Kiewit Infrastructure West was going to be fined by Los Angeles' MTA at a rate of $72,000 per hour -- literally $1200 per minute -- for delay in finishing completion and getting the 405 freeway reopened. There's also good reason Kiewit had some serious motivation to finish ahead of schedule -- a little fact not openly referenced during those endless hours of newscasts: Kiewit's profiting big-time for finishing the L.A. freeway early -- raking in a hefty bonus of more than a quarter of a million dollars. Kiewit gets an extra $300,000 for finishing the 405 project early.

But even paying out that bonus saves the L.A. project nearly half a million dollars: $400,000. Workers slated for an additional 12 hour shift would have cost almost three-quarters of a million: $700,000. After paying out Kiewit the $300,000 bonus for early completion, the freeway project's still ahead of the game by $400,000. Of course it all makes Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa's interest in keeping people off the freeways -- or a "Carmaggedon" scare -- a bit more understandable. There was money at stake. Big money.

Don't expect "Carmageddon" to be over too quickly. After all, it took awhile for someone to come up with that great marketing moniker. "Carmageddon" Part II is slated for just a year off, in summer 2012. And surely another early completion bonus at stake.


Los Angeles, CA
United States
34° 3' 8.0424" N, 118° 14' 37.266" W
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