Los Angeles braces itself for 'Carmageddon' this weekend

No other nation on earth indulges in melodrama quite like the Americans, but it would seem that the population of Los Angeles would do well to brace themselves for 'Carmageddon' this weekend.

A critical ten-mile stretch of highway in the already traffic-clogged city is due to be closed for 53 hours from midnight on Friday.The 405 Interstate, which links population centres north and south of the Santa Monica Mountains, is one of the busiest freeways in the entire US, and is often used by up to 500,000 drivers per day.

It's imminent closure is expected to be so severe that officials are advising people to treat the road like a disaster area, and have even gone to the trouble of setting up an emergency operation centre.

'The best thing is to stay home if you can, don't drive if you don't have to,' said Michael Miles, of the California Department of Transportation. 'Be prepared, treat it like it's a disaster.'

Just in case anyone fails to heed the authorities warning, Hollywood has also stepped up to the plate. Tom Hanks himself tweeted: 'This weekend, LA! Avoid Carmageddon, Gas-zilla, 405-enstein, Grid-lock-apalooza! STAY HOME. Eat & shop local.'

Wise words, Forrest. But not everyone has to endure the carnage. So-called helicopter taxi rides between downtown and the airport are being snapped up at $150 a pop, and JetBlue sold 600 seats on special half-hour flights dubbed, 'Over the 405' in three hours.

The road is being temporarily closed as part of a $1bn improvement programme which includes the replacement of the 50-year-old Mulholland Bridge.

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