Surviving “Carmageddon”

Last summer, Judy Gish, Public Information Officer for the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) District 7, had a very unenviable task: keep 500,000 vehicles off of I-405 in Los Angeles during a mid-July weekend.
Impossible? You might think so, but Gish led a communications effort that was so successful that it was a non-event. Motorists stayed away and the
road opened 17 hours ahead of schedule! This outstanding communications campaign earned Judy this year’s NAGC Communicator of the Year award.
The goal was to to raise awareness of a 53-hour complete closure
of one of the busiest freeways in the world, Interstate 405 (I-405), in order
to facilitate the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge.
Essentially, Caltrans used fear to their advantage to get the attention of motorists. Dubbing the event “Carmageddon” and utilizing a massive array of communications tactics, Gish and her fellow communicators developed simple but effective messages that emphasized the possible delays and encouraging motorists to avoid I-405 during this time periods.
Want to learn how she pulled it off? Judy will be presenting her story, as well as receiving the 2012 NAGC Communicator of the Year award, at this year’s NAGC Communications School in Arlington, VA. Early-bird registration ends April 30.

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