LOS ANGELES (CBS) — When completed, the 405 expansion project will create the nation’s longest High Occupancy Vehicle Lane – or carpool lane – running a continuous 48 miles. It is also likely to come in over its $1.1 billion budget.

The reason for the potential cost overrun, which the MTA’s Transit Projects Executive Director, K.N. Murthy, says is a “very good possibility,” is the fact that the entire project is running four to six months behind schedule, Murthy tells KNX1070.

Originally slated to be finished by May 2013, the target date is now closer to a year from now, KNX1070’s Charles Feldman reports.

The reason, Murthy says, is largely due to the way MTA went about the project, which is different from how CalTrans would handle it.

In the case of the 405 project, right-of-way clearances from property owners whose homes or land stood in the way of the expansion were being negotiated as the bulldozers were already hard at work; CalTrans, says Murthy, typically will obtain such clearances beforehand.

However, the way CalTrans handles such projects, according to Murthy, would have made the 405 project an eight- to 10-year ordeal rather than the now expected four and a half year one.

Still, the contractor needs to get paid even while right-of-way clearances are being obtained or paid for, hence the potential cost overrun.

Murthy says there is no estimate just how costly the 405 project will finally be, since contractors have yet to submit their bills. Murthy says negotiations are underway to try and minimize the amount.

Carmageddon Complacency

Meantime, some officials are worried that people might be too complacent this year after Carmageddon I last summer failed to bring about the traffic nightmare some had forecast.

This year, officials have been less hyperbolic, urging people to shop locally rather than warning the sky would fall in should they venture outside on the roads, Feldman reports.

“I haven’t been laid back about it,” says L.A. County Board of Supervisors member Zev Yaroslavsky, in an interview with KNX1070. “I’m one who believes that you have to raise the specter of a major traffic congestion problem if people don’t cooperate.”

Unlike last year, when work on the south side of the Mulholland Drive Bridge was completed hours ahead of schedule, officials say that is not likely to happen this weekend because more work needs to be done on the bridge’s northern side.

Nevertheless, the aim is still to have the 405 completely reopened by 5 a.m. Monday. Otherwise, the contractor faces a penalty that could be as high as $360,000 for each hour all lanes remain closed past the deadline.


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