The yearlong headache that has plagued drivers traveling from Long Beach ends this weekend when crews reopen a busy ramp on the westbound 22.
The Seventh Street Bridge carries about 300,000 vehicles a day from the northbound I-405 and the westbound 22 into Long Beach.
Morning traffic has continued at a normal pace despite the closure of the ramp. According to plans, the ramp will reopen at 5 a.m. on Saturday.
The bridge was destroyed and rebuilt to make more space for the new carpool lanes on the 405.
For most travelers, this is a welcome relief. Alberto Campos, who drives from his house in Long Beach to the USC campus in Irvine, the reopening of the bridge will help with his commute.
“It added 15, 20 minutes to my commute,” said Campos, 31.
Long Beach officials were afraid that there were be a significant increase in traffic congestion, when the overpass closed last April.
“In a matter of the first couple of weeks, people started learning the detour routes and that (street) congestion went away,” said Steve Bos, with the city’s engineering bureau.
The traffic planners worked to minimize potential impacts by synchronizing the traffic signals to keep traffic moving on surface streets. The Orange County Transportation Authority gave the city of Long Beach $1.5 million for street improvements, including another lane on Westminster Avenue.
Commuter Jordan Molina, 34, travels from Orange County to Long Beach City College and said that the closure was a huge inconvenience.
“When it was open, it was easy to get to where you were going. But, when it closed, you had to take a lot of detours,” Molina said.
The work was part of a $277-million project that attempted to address the traffic at the intersection of the I-405, the 22, and the I-605 come together. The project connected the carpool lanes so that motorists don’t have to leave them when changing freeways.
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