DOWNTOWN — If you are looking for a local hotel this weekend to escape “Carmageddon,” you may be out of luck.
Santa Monica’s hotels are all nearly booked solid for July 16-17 when the Interstate 405 closure is expected to create major traffic delays on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. Officials plan to shut down a 10-mile stretch of the 405 North and a 4-mile slice of the 405 South so that crews can demolition the Mulholland Drive bridge as part of a freeway widening project.
Commuting hospital workers and critical public safety employees are booking hotels to spend the night in Santa Monica so that they do not spend hours stuck in traffic, or worse, miss their shifts.
This weekend, bustling hotels range from the affordable Comfort Inn to the boutique Bayside Hotel and the posh Fairmont-Miramar, with prices ranging from $159 to over $400 per night.
While those local employees have an idea of what’s in store come Carmageddon, many of their fellow foriegn guests may not.
When Caltrans notified the CVB about the closure a month ago, the CVB called a meeting with the general managers of several local hotels. Thus, hotels have been in contact with guests for nearly 30 days, making them aware of the impending traffic nightmare, said Misti Kerns, president and CEO of the CVB.
John Strozdas, general manager of the Ambrose Hotel, said his staff decided against contacting guests who booked a room prior to the closure announcement. Storzdas said he believed the media was heavily publicizing the closure, so “most people are very aware of it.”
However, Ambrose Hotel staff have been notifying guests who booked rooms more recently, warning them that the drive down from the airport may take longer than expected.
“We’re telling hotel guests not to be worried, but we are offering them alternative routing information,” Kerns said.
The CVB is encouraging visitors to ride bikes or take the bus during the freeway closure.
The Ambrose already employs a complementary shuttle service, and has rented six extra bikes for guests.
Kerns said there was no trepidation about the increased bookings; guests were not encouraged to reschedule.
Tourists, like residents, are being encouraged to stay local.
“There’s a lot of fun specials happening around town to encourage people to stay once they’ve arrived,” Kerns said.
The CVB often discourages tourists from using rental cars, she added, as she went on to say that research shows 70 percent of overnight guests in Santa Monica don’t use their vehicles once they arrive.
For more information about Carmageddon and local activities scheduled for this weekend, visit www.car-mageddon.com and www.smgov.net/405.