Friday, July 1, 2011

Carmageddon wedding in LA

Southern Californians are bracing themselves for "Carmageddon weekend", the weekend when a huge stretch of the major 405 freeway will be shut down for repairs. It seems like it's going to be bad, but hopefully people will stay home and not clog all the major roads. My close friend and I have been wondering how many weddings will be affected by the freeway closure, and how much it sucks because there was no way of knowing about this last year. Here's the first story I've seen:

A year ago, a young Marina del Rey couple picked the seemingly innocuous date of July 17, 2011, for their wedding in Bel-Air. Then came the unthinkable: Transportation officials announced that a nearby section of the 405 freeway would be closed that day.

"My mom said, I'm going to tell you something, but don't freak out," said soon-to-be bride Dalia Franco, 25.

But panic has been unavoidable, and Franco brought her concerns to the freeway closure meeting Thursday night. A total of 130 wedding guests are expected to arrive from local areas as well as from San Diego, other parts of the United States and even Israel and Africa, she said. She's worried that people will not be able to get to the ceremony on time.

A family friend's house on Bellagio Road will serve as the venue for a 5 p.m. garden wedding themed "Romance under the Stars," Franco said. She and her fiance, Moshe Shmuel, 26, are bracing themselves for a logistical migraine. The couple have asked guests to schedule early flights that will land in plenty of time for the ceremony. Few options exist to ease the drive from the airport or from guests' homes.

She has sent frantic calls and emails to local government officials, asking for their help. She approached public safety officials at the meeting Thursday night seeking advice for her wedding guests. Shmuel, a business student at Santa Monica College, also came to the meeting.

After hearing Franco speak, Los Angeles city officials promised to help the couple make a contingency plan. A group of police officers came up to talk to her after the meeting.

"What we're doing is finding out more about the event and looking at alternate routes," said Capt. John Egan of the LAPD's West Valley area and an operations chief for the closure weekend.

The plans may involve buses or other ways to efficiently move a large number of people, Egan added. Franco said she greatly appreciated the response.

"It's something to calm my fears a little bit," she said, adding that either way, "it's a wedding no one will forget."

I sincerely hope this all works out for them. Good luck, Dalia and Moshe!


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