With a bridge-demolition project that will close a portion of Century Boulevard for 57 hours just a week away, business owners along the busy artery leading in out of Los Angeles International Airport said today they are bracing for major traffic jams and a probable slow-down in business.
A Metro contractor will begin demolishing a defunct railroad bridge at Century and Aviation boulevards at 9 p.m. July 25, clearing the site for a Crenshaw/LAX light rail line station. Century Boulevard will remain blocked until 6 a.m. July 28.
Metro officials have been warning people expecting to travel to LAX that weekend to plan ahead, estimating that 92,800 motorists travel through the Century/Aviation intersection on a daily basis.
They have dubbed the demolition project and potential traffic tie-up "Century Crunch," and urged motorists to avoid the area entirely if at all possible.
Marco Khorasani, president of VIP Tours of California, which is located next to the construction site, said he is anticipating a "messy situation."
"I think it is going to be very difficult because we are right in the middle of Century and Aviation," Khorasani told Video News West.
VIP Tours of California works with the hotels on Century Boulevard to pick up tourists, and Khorasani said he is anticipating some major traffic.
"We hope it is going to be short," Khorasani said, adding that he has been telling customers in advance to be prepared for delays. He said he supports the project, but he is bracing for the possibility of some lost business.
Lance Lipscomb, a general partner at the Travelodge Hotel at LAX on Century Boulevard, said he has already made changes, including hiring extra drivers because of slow traffic, and offering refunds to guests because of the delays.
"They couldn't pick a worse month. July and August are our busiest times," Lipscomb said. "When it comes to those kind of projects, it's what serves the majority the best is what gets done."
He said he feels sorry for the guests, but there is not really any other place for them to go because other hotels are full.
"We're going to be dealing with upset people for three days," Lipscomb said.
With Century Boulevard blocked, motorists heading toward LAX that weekend will be diverted north on La Cienega Boulevard, west on Manchester Avenue, then south on Airport Boulevard, back to Century. Motorists leaving LAX will take the same detour in reverse.
Lanes will also be reduced on Aviation Boulevard during the demolition.
Metro officials also noted that once the bridge is demolished, Century Boulevard will remain reduced by one lane in each direction for the next 16 months, leaving three lanes each way.
The 8.5-mile, $2.058 billion Crenshaw/LAX line will run from the Metro Expo line at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards and connect with the Green line near the airport.
--City News Service