Bridge bash is about to begin in Orange County...



WESTMINSTER (CNS) - OrangeCounty residents who want to drive to Los Angeles this weekend better make plans for detours as a segment of the busy San Diego (405) Freeway in the Westminster area will be closed in both directions.

``It's sort of like the Carmageddon of Orange County,'' said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who also serves on the board of directors of the OrangeCountyTransportation Authority.

``If you plan to be in LA and you're coming back Saturday night, think about taking the 91 to the 55. Think ahead so you're not frustrated because there are alternative courses to take.''

Moorlach and other OrangeCounty officials have been sounding the alarms this month warning of the 20-hour closure of the San Diego Freeway in both directions from 9 p.m. Saturday through 5 p.m. Sunday, from the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway to Valley View Street in Westminster.

The closure will let workers raze the bridge linking the southbound San Diego Freeway to eastbound Garden Grove (22) Freeway. Orange County Transportation Authority officials are calling it the ``Bridge Bash'' project.

``We're calling it the Bridge Bash because Carmageddon's taken,'' Moorlach said with a chuckle.

Moorlach is pleased with the effort to inform the public.

``It's on all the Amber Alert signs,'' Moorlach said. ``We're in an age of social media where everyone seems informed, but if you're not then sorry, but OCTA has done a rather effective job of getting the message out.''

Westminster police warned residents that they should expect increased congestion on Westminster Boulevard between Bolsa Chica Road and Edwards Street this weekend.

``We are really asking for our residents and visitors to have some patience and drive safely if they have to drive through this area,'' Westminster police Sgt. Rich Mize said.

The southbound San Diego Freeway connector to the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway has been reconstructed to add a new carpool connecting lane, and because the new connector opened on July 29, workers must raze the old one.

The bridge cannot be demolished one half at a time for technical reasons related to its older design, OCTA officials say.

The demolition will require 50 pieces of equipment, including four large excavators, and about 60 to 70 workers.

The work will cost about $700,000, and if it goes beyond 5 p.m. Sunday the contractor, Cleveland Wrecking Company, will have to foot the bill of about $35,000 per hour from then on, so there's an incentive to complete it on time, OCTA officials say.

The new bridge will be 34 feet tall, versus 28 feet for the old one, which was built in 1965.

The average daily traffic on the connector is about 63,000 vehicles. The average daily traffic on the San Diego Freeway in the area is about 370,000 during the week and 350,000 on the weekend.

The work is part of the $277 million West County Connectors project, which was started in 2010 and will connect carpool lanes on the San Diego, San Gabriel River and Garden Grove freeways. The project also includes a second carpool lane for the San Diego Freeway between the Garden Grove and San Gabriel River freeways.

The project is expected to be finished in late 2014 or early 2015.

During the closure, northbound San Diego Freeway motorists were advised to take the following detours:

-- exit Beach Boulevard and turn right; take the westbound Garden Grove Freeway on-ramp to reconnect with northbound San Diego Freeway;

-- exit Westminster Avenue (east) and turn left, turn right on Bolsa Chica Road and take the westbound Garden Grove Freeway on-ramp to reconnect with the northbound San Diego Freeway; or

-- exit Valley View Street and turn left on Garden Grove Boulevard, turn right on Valley View Street and take the westbound Garden Grove Freeway on- ramp to reconnect with northbound San Diego Freeway.

Southbound San Diego Freeway motorists have the following detours:

-- exit Studebaker Road and turn right, turn left on East Second Street/Westminster Avenue, continue on Westminster Avenue to access southbound San Diego Freeway;

-- Merge onto northbound San Gabriel River Freeway, exit Katella Avenue and turn right, turn right on Valley View Street to access southbound San Diego Freeway.

Southbound motorists on the San Gabriel River Freeway should use the following detour:

-- exit Willow Street and turn right, turn left on Studebaker Road, turn left on east Second Street/Westminster Avenue, continue on Westminster Avenue to access southbound San Diego Freeway.

Motorists on Seventh Street and eastbound Garden Grove Freeway should merge on northbound San Gabriel River Freeway, exit Katella Avenue and turn right, turn right on Valley View Street to access southbound San Diego Freeway.