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Sep. 12, 1929: Groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of Sepulveda Boulevard. The four-lane precursor to the 405 opened in 1935 and was hailed in the Los Angeles Times as a "new and wondrous highway" over the mountains, vastly superior to the overcrowded Cahuenga Pass and Laurel Canyon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Public Library Photo

Feb. 29, 1960: The northern portion of the construction zone of the 405 Freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains. Published reports at the time highlighted the size of the project: 18 million cubic yards of earth were removed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: California Division of Highways

Feb. 8, 1961: Giant earth-mover rumbles down path of what will be the right-of-way of the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405). The Mulholland Drive bridge, opened in 1960, sits in background. Sepulveda Boulevard runs through photo, but will be relocated. Once built, I-405 will be 90 feet below the bridge.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: R.L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times

April 2, 1961: An aerial view of the San Diego Freeway construction project at the Mulholland Drive bridge. Dirt from beneath the span was hauled to the San Fernando Valley for freeway fill.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Lindbeck / Los Angeles Times

Sept. 21, 1962: The San Diego Freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains is nearly complete. Cars traverse Sepulveda Boulevard next to the freeway in the foreground.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gil Cooper / Los Angeles Times

Dec. 14, 1962: The "Mulholland cut" section of the San Diego Freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains replaces the winding Sepulveda Boulevard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Dec. 27, 1962: Six days after the Sepulveda Pass portion of the 405 Freeway opened, there's hardly a car in sight from the Sunset Boulevard bridge into the San Fernando Valley.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Pacific Air Industries

June 21, 1976: Diamond lanes, or carpool lanes, on the 405 Freeway become a source of controversy in the 1970s.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 31, 1977: After a controversy, the diamond lane on the northbound 405 opened to all traffic. An L.A. city car ferried officials on the route that day. The name on the sign refers to Adriana Gianturco, then the director of Caltrans.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George R. Fry / Los Angeles Times

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This weekend’s 405 Freeway construction project, being called “Carmageddon 2,” is nothing new. Construction in the Sepulveda Pass has been going on for decades.

The first major highway —  four-lane Sepulveda Boulevard — opened in 1935, but in time it became a clogged traffic mess. The replacement San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405) was opened in 1962, and it too ended up choked with cars.

So today, a $1-billion widening project is trying to unclog the 405. How long the relief will last is anyone’s guess.

[This 2011 post was updated for Carmageddon 2 with an additional 1961 photo of the Mulholland Drive bridge.]


  1. July 16, 2011, 1:26 pm

    Great photo! Thank you so much! 🙂

    By: Vaneeesa Blaylock
  2. September 29, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Wonderful photos. I wish there were more! Interesting comment, too, an issue our decision-makers apparently ignored: "So today, a $1-billion widening project is trying to unclog the 405. How long the relief will last is anyone’s guess." ($1 billion, and lost productivity in the region has probably doubled that figure considering the project has caused traffic nightmares for 6 years now.) For local and state leaders to think that this project would make even a dent of long-lasting improvement is ridiculous. Any increased speed will just cause more drivers to decide to use the freeway. Even the carpool lane will fill up again in no time. Responsible leadership would have put light rail or some other type of mass transit down the center of the freeway. Imagine being able to get from the South Bay to the North Valley in 30 minutes as opposed to the one to two hours that even the "improved" 405 will take.

    By: storytow
  3. September 29, 2012, 8:19 pm

    I was there. My dad was a carpenter at the studios in Hollywood in the 60s and 70s…Along drive early in the mornings until the freeway was done. Today, 2012 this incredible road could NEVER be built…the red tape would take 100 years….

    By: fun
  4. September 30, 2012, 9:19 pm

    Excellent photos. Born and raised in the West SFV I appreciate the article detailing the history behind Sepulveda Blvd & the 405. I drove it daily to work and UCLA!

    By: Philip Reiss
  5. October 1, 2012, 10:39 am

    I first came to California in 1965, and these pictures remind me of how beautiful and rural it still was back then. There is a limit to population growth. And immigration. In the mid-20th century, California was a great place to live, but we see how too many people are making it not so nice. And the lack of mass transportation. If LA County had a subway system like every other major urban area has, the County would be so much more livable, and the economy would take off. Why the Board of Supervisors aren't making this their number one priority is a real failure of leadership. Vote for leaders with vision next election.

    By: IonaTrailer
  6. October 1, 2012, 10:41 am


    Board of Supervisors, are you listening?

    By: IonaTrailer

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