business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The city of Los Angeles gets a lot of teasing and even ridicule; it is, after all, one of the nation’s more eclectic and idiosyncratic metropolitan areas.

Over the last few weeks, a new word has become associated with the City of Angeles - “Carmageddon,” used to describe the just-passed weekend, when the often-gridlocked 405 Freeway (yes, even on weekends) was to be closed down for a10 mile stretch so it could be widened. Local officials sounded the alarm early and often, using every means at their disposal, to warn drivers that they should expect alternative roadways to be clogged and even impassable.

What was eye-opening about the event is that none of this happened. A lot of people stayed home, reducing traffic. Some people used a $150-per-trip helicopter service to go to work (if they had to ... it was, after all, the weekend). Some took advantage of special Jet Blue offer - a $4 fare between Burbank and long Beach airports. Of course, this promotion created its own little drama, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

“A flurry of Twitter activity ensued, followed by tough talk from the Wolfpack Hustle, a local cycling club, that six of its best riders could beat the 150-seat Airbus A320 - including drive time to and from the airports, check-in and security screening.

“In the end, the cyclists crushed it, cruising along the Los Angeles River to reach the final destination, the lighthouse in Shoreline Aquatic Park, in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

“The plane had barely taken off. Cyclist Joe Anthony, on board as part of the challenge, said there was only one advantage to the airliner. ‘It's legal to drink beer and fly, whereas the cyclists have to follow all the rules,’ he said.”

It’s always eye-opening when people companies come up with unique solutions to extraordinary challenges, but there was something even more attention-catching about “Carmageddon.”

Work went so smoothly that the expansion efforts ended 18 hours ahead of schedule.

Proving that at least sometimes, though you may hope for the best and expect the worst, life jumps up and surprises you with the best ... though usually only because you’ve done everything you can possibly do to prepare and execute efficiently and effectively.

Go figure.
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