LA Gives New York Advice on Our Version of "Carmageddon"

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New Jersey commuters are feeling the effects of the Pulaski Skyway closure today, the first weekday of the shutdown. The 82-year-old bridge will be closed for construction for the next two years. It’s a major thoroughfare, bringing drivers to Jersey City and New York by way of the Holland Tunnel, and commuters have been bracing for traffic snarls for months.

To get a sense of what to expect, Morning Edition’s Soterios Johnson spoke with Steve Chiotakis, afternoon news anchor for KCRW in Los Angeles. Chiotakis shared his city’s experience with “Carmegeddon,” when Los Angeles shut down part of the 405 freeway for two weekends in 2011 and 2012 to widen the Mulholland Bridge. It’s one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country, and fears of gridlock on alternate routes plagued drivers for months beforehand.

It turns out, Carmageddon didn’t happen, Chiotakis said. Politicians took to the news media and social media to tell drivers to stay off the roads and use public transportation as much as possible.

“They had commercials on the radio and TV telling people to be prepared,” said Chiotakis. “In this case, I think the politicians really informed the residents of the area and it did work.”

Listen to the interview to hear Soterios Johnson let us in on a little-known fact about Chiotakis: his given name is Soterios, too. In this rare "Soterios-on-Soterios" interview, Chiotakis begins to doubt his choice to use the English version of his name professionally.