L.A. bridge unexpectedly collapses during ‘Carmageddon II’ construction

Workers demolish the south side of Mulholland overpass on the 405 freeway during last year's "Carmageddon." (CNN)

Workers demolish the south side of Mulholland overpass on the 405 freeway during last year’s “Carmageddon.” (CNN)

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Los Angeles (CNN) — A massive Southern California highway project dubbed “Carmageddon II” saw an unscripted moment when a section of a bridge unexpectedly collapsed, narrowly missing construction crews, officials said.

A portion of the famed 50-year-old Mulholland Drive Bridge — a fixture in the Los Angeles freeway-scape — came down Saturday as workers were demolishing another part of it.

“On an operation of this size, of this magnitude, pieces come down of all different sizes and shapes,” Dan Kulka of Kiewit Construction told CNN affiliate KABC. “We did not anticipate this, although it’s not unusual for a big piece to come down like that.”

The bridge collapse is not expected to delay the scheduled reopening early Monday morning of a 10-mile section of Interstate 405, one of the nation’s busiest freeways.

“Carmageddon II” repeats last year’s closure of the same section of Interstate 405, which had been expected to be so apocalyptic that Los Angeles residents labeled the weekend shutdown “Carmageddon.”

“So far, ‘Carmageddon II’ is an excellent sequel,” Los Angeles Fire Capt. Alicia Mathis said.

The theatrical play on words captures Los Angeles’ love affair with the automobile and its dread of common traffic jams. But last year’s evacuation of the highway went smoothly, causing no paralysis.

The drama is heightened by how the closed portion of the 405 overlaps the Sepulveda Pass of the Santa Monica Mountains — one of only two major highways over the range.

No major traffic jams had been reported early Sunday morning.

Lauren Wonder, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, said residents so far had heeded warnings to stay home or in their communities. Officials continued to advocate the use of public transportation.

Because last year’s closure went well, officials were concerned this year about ultra-gridlock out of a fear that motorists may get behind the wheel this weekend out of excessive confidence and complacency.

The 405, as it’s locally called, connects suburban San Fernando Valley with Los Angeles International Airport. It also stretches into the well-to-do neighborhoods of west Los Angeles, such as Bel Air and Brentwood.

Specifically, the 405 was closed between Interstate 10 and U.S. 101.

Crews were taking down a portion of the Mulholland Drive Bridge to make room for a wider roadway. The bridge is being reconstructed.

CNN’s Kyung Lah contributed to this report.

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