‘Carmageddon’ Was Nothing Short of Spectacular (less)

Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Business News, Social Networking [ 0 Comments ]

For those of us who put up with daily commuting horrors in Southern California, this past weekend’s “Carmageddon” in the Los Angeles area turned out to be about as exciting as watching the budget debates in Washington, D.C.

If you would have attentively listened to the news and followed the world of social media leading up to this event, you would have thought the Chinese were invading from across the Pacific, the Mexicans from the south and God knows who from the other directions.

Now granted, we Californians (I’ve been here 16 years) tend to over dramatize things.

We can turn October’s first light drizzle into 10 minutes of “Storm Watch” on the news and some 200 accidents on the freeways in just a morning’s commute. We’re also the state that gave you some of the worst fashion trends this country has ever seen, the famed O.J. Simpson trial, and even Lindsay Lohan. Okay, we apologize for the latter two.

In California, it is our prerogative to make a mountain out of a molehill. We turn what should be something simple into something where every news network is camped out for days waiting to tell our story.

So back to this “Carmageddon” thing for a moment for you out-of-towners not up to speed.

Demolishing  a Bridge

The gist of the story is that highway officials over the weekend closed down a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway, a major artery, in order to demolish a bridge.

The lead up to this event was something out of a Hollywood production. Officials and residents were fearful that there would be major gridlock, the kind usually reserved for a good high-speed police chase.

Social media sites were abuzz with ways to navigate around the problem, while GPS navigation applications were also getting their money’s worth. Meantime, the local television networks and even some from afar were buzzing the skies overhead with their choppers to let people know about what was going on. Last but not least, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher were tweeting about the closure. Yes, only California could serve up this much drama.

So, was Los Angeles immersed in gridlock the likes of which we have never seen? Of course it wasn’t.

Streets and freeways remained clear, there were no major accidents to report on alternative routes related to the 405 closure, and no children or pets were harmed in the filming of this production.

Some astute politicians and citizens even went as far as to say that this episode in patience and civility means we should further explore the idea of additional investment in rail and bus service.

It also appears that “Carmageddon” did not have a major impact on small businesses in the area.

Businesses Don’t Go Under

While exact sales numbers were not available at the time of this posting, the general consensus is that businesses knew in advance of this closure, hence they had time to make adjustments unlike if a major earthquake had hit or some other natural event. Marketing proved key in allowing companies to alert consumers of the closure and how it could impact their purchasing needs for 48 hours.

Businesses were able to reroute shipments and deliveries around the two-day road closure so as not to have a major impact on their financial books. Given that many businesses are operating on no or reduced weekend hours, the timing of the road closure was also well planned out.

Finally, those individuals who may typically venture outside their neighborhoods and onto the 405 Freeway for a dinner or movie were more likely to patronize a local establishment last weekend with the road closure.

While “Carmageddon” essentially turned into a non-story, we Californians managed to make it one.

Oh, by the way, another stretch of the 405 Freeway is slated for a similar weekend closure next year, lest you thought you heard the last of this matter.

Photo credit: abclocal.go.com

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