Apparently, this should be known as the Where Are They Now Full Employment Act. As ABC News reports, the 53-hour closure of one segment of the 405 Freeway has not only created allusions to biblical apocalypse, it’s even managed to find Erik Estrada a job. The one-time star of “CHiPs,” the television series based on the dramatic exploits of California Highway Patrolmen and a region full of former Hollywood stars, found himself in the middle of a public-service announcement warning people of the upcoming traffic meltdown on Los Angeles’ West Side:
As a recovering Angeleno, it’s pretty amusing to see all of the sturm und drang over a 53-hour closure that mainly falls on the weekend. Yes, the 405 is a major traffic artery, and yes, the closure of this part of the loop will have a big impact on traffic. If the schedule holds, though, Monday’s traffic will pass through the area normally, which is to say, crawling bumper-to-bumper. Authorities probably needed to alert drivers to avoid the area this weekend to allow for better route selection ahead of time, but the public relations campaign and accompanying hysteria is overkill — so much so that one might suspect that the real purpose behind it isn’t to give LA’s drivers a heads-up but to give them a scolding on their driving habits altogether.
[T]here is a public-outrage angle to Carmageddon, involving the unnecessary overscheduling of this work, a bunch of NIMBYs, and general incompetence. While I appreciate that angle, I have been more fascinated by the spectacle of big government and big media taking an easily resolved problem (alerting people that a handy stretch of a major highway would be closed for 53 hours) into a condescending exercise in lifestyle hectoring. In La La Land, making it clear to drivers what time the work would begin and end took a lower priority than having William Shatner and Lady GaGa tweet about what they’ll be doing instead of using cars this weekend.
If the official reaction to a 53-hour weekend closure of the freeway is on the level, heaven help Los Angeles when a real crisis emerges.