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Orange County's 'Bridge Bash' 405 closure ends early

The daylong closure of a span of the 405 Freeway ended early Sunday. Southbound lanes reopened to traffic at 1:45 p.m. Northbound lanes were clear 2 hours before they were expectated to be.

The I-405 Freeway closed between the I-605 Freeway and Valley View Street in Westminster so that construction crews could demolish a 700-foot bridge that spanned the 405. 

Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman Ted Nguyen said that’s why they had to close a section of the 405 this weekend – to preserve it.

"We wanted to protect the integrity of the investment," Nguyen said, "by laying down 125 steel plates to protect the freeway from falling plates, from other materials, rebar."

Crews in bulldozers and trucks had scooped up that debris and cleared it away by mid-day Sunday. But it's not going into a landfill. Nguyen says the materials will be recycled.

"They were able to remove 3,200 tons of concrete," said Nguyen. "And they’re going to be recycling the concrete so it could be used and reused on this particular project and other projects throughout southern California."

OCTA shot a time-lapse video of the demolition's progress: 

The effort is part of  a larger plan: the West County Connectors project. The $277 million effort covers a  6-mile stretch and multiple cities in the Southland. Transit authorities say it will improve traffic flow by connecting carpool lanes on the highly trafficked I-405, I-605 and state Route 22 freeways, while also adding a second carpool lane to the I-405 between SR-22 and I-605.

Other improvements include rebuilding freeway exits, on-ramps and improving "aesthetic elements." ultimately connect carpool lanes on the highly trafficked I-405, I-605 and state Route 22 freeways.

The closure, which started at 9 p.m. Saturday, was expected to last through 5 p.m. on Sunday, but workers were able to dismantle the bridge and complete work ahead of schedule.

Nguyen credits the agency's community outreach campaign for the success. 

"The detours worked beautifully," he told KPCC's Molly Peterson. "We had reports from cities and commuters that though well traveled it was smooth sailing for most commuters."

Nguyen said OCTA extensive publicity efforts appeared to have convinced drivers to stay away.