PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Let’s see. Even though he grew up just down the road, Tiger Woods is not playing in this week’s Northern Trust Open at historic Riviera Country Club. Phil Mickelson, a huge fan favorite and two-time champion of this event, withdrew to vacation with his family. Hall of Fame basketball player Jerry West resigned as executive director of the tournament.
What more could go wrong? Try an 80-hour traffic jam on Interstate 405, a major artery around Los Angeles that leads to Riviera. Road construction to add a carpool lane to the northbound 405 is scheduled to start about 7 p.m. Friday and continue through the early morning hours Tuesday.
Three of five lanes will be closed during the day, and all five will be shut at night. The 405 normally accommodates more than 300,000 cars per day, according to LA Metro, the agency that regulates public transportation.
The likelihood of a traffic tempest is so great that LA Metro has nicknamed the potential backups “Jamzilla.” LA Metro hopes to draw attention to the name and the road closure. The entire mess is being compared to the “Carmageddon” traffic ordeal in Los Angeles in 2011.
All these dire predictions for Jamzilla, and it hasn’t even started yet. There has to be something particularly ominous about a road closure that begins on Valentine’s Day and continues through Presidents Day.
Nobody is sure what it means for attendance at the Northern Trust Open.
“No, they didn’t contact us,” Mike Bone, general manager of the Northern Trust Open, said of the freeway regulators. “We started hearing rumors about six weeks ago.”
Riviera and the Los Angeles Open (now the Northern Trust Open) have an enviable place in PGA Tour history. In 1929 the Los Angeles Open became the first golf tournament to be broadcast on radio. In 1948, Ben Hogan won the Los Angeles Open and the U.S. Open at Riviera.
Now it appears the course will be able to boast the biggest traffic jam in the history of the PGA Tour.
Of course, Jamzilla will affect much more than golf. Los Angeles International Airport, located nearby in El Segundo, is warning travelers to give themselves plenty of extra driving time. Residents trying to get away for a three-day holiday are being advised to avoid the 405.
Bone, attempting to maintain a positive perspective, pointed out there are alternative routes to Riviera. Regardless, Jamzilla won’t make life easier for anyone around Los Angeles this weekend.