The 2011 Mulholland Bridge Upgrade Project – ‘Carmageddon’

August 26, 2014

By: Ray Dickinson

Penhall demoing the Mulholland Bridge

#TBT to July 16-17, 2011 – CARMAGEDDON

In order to complete a $1,000,000,000 transportation project, to add a north bound carpool lane from Orange County to the San Fernando Valley, the Mulholland Bridge needed to be renovated. The first phase of the project would remove half the bridge and shut down the 405 freeway for a span of 53 hours. This closure was the largest planned shutdown of any Los Angeles freeway in history. Due to anticipated traffic jams of mass proportions, terror ensued and The Mulholland Bridge Project was dubbed by the press and community as “Carmageddon.”

The contract to demo the bridge was won by one of the largest contractors in the world – Kiewit. Kiewit asked Penhall to sub-contract on the job due to our knowledge and expertise in the field of demolition. With a penalty of $6,000 for every 10 minutes the job was late, the stakes were high. A number of key factors needed to fall into place in order to achieve success.

3 Major Factors Contributing to Carmageddon’s Success:

1)      Resources. When taking on such a massive project, it is vital that those involved have the resources necessary to combat all aspects of the job and even unforeseeable ones. Luckily, Kiewit and Penhall had the nationwide resources and strength to deal with whatever the project may have needed. If something went wrong during the project, we had the capability and expertise to pivot if needed.

2)      Team. An important factor of any job is having a strong team behind you. Carmageddon was such a massive undertaking with so many different levels and facets. It was by the talent and teamwork displayed by the Kiewit and Penhall partnership that the project succeeded. From the top execs, to the project management staff, to the engineers, to the guys in the field, everyone worked in perfect unison to make sure that not one last detail was overlooked.

3)      Pre-Task Planning. This was hands down one of the most important factors contributing to the success of Carmageddon. However, it is important to note that pre-task planning is vital for any job, no matter the size. By being able to hold multiple pre-task planning meetings, everyone on the job was able to be on the same page. Multiple meetings were held, and cooperation with Kiewit was essential in making sure that each goal was met by the end of shift. This was crucial because it kept everyone in check with what their job was and how they would ultimately contribute to the success of the finished project.

Through these three important key factors, Penhall Company and Kiewit were able to make sure that Carmageddon was not only finished on time – but was a major success. With vast resources, a great team, and pre-task planning, the job was finished 16 hours ahead of schedule – something that even wowed transportation experts!

Reopening of the Mulholland bridge after partial demolition

To learn more about Carmageddon, check out our video at:


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