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L.A. traffic the day before Thanksgiving will be the worst in U.S.

Driving in the Los Angeles area the day before Thanksgiving is expected to take 36% longer than average

Angelenos will face the worst traffic in the country Wednesday, with trips in the region projected to take 36% longer than average, a new report finds.

Los Angeles tops the list of the nation's most congested cities this Thanksgiving season, with delays exceeding the national average by 10%, according to data released Thursday from Inrix, a Washington technology company.

"Los Angeles is simply the worst place to be on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving," said traffic analyst Jim Bak. Trailing close behind are Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Seattle, where drivers will also see a roughly one-third increase in travel times.

If you have to get somewhere in L.A. on Wednesday, Bak recommends leaving before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid peak traffic between 3 and 5 p.m.

"However, if accidents or a major storm hit, all bets are off," he said.

Though a storm is unlikely in L.A., more cars on the road means a higher chance of accidents, he said.

Better yet, Bak said, "wait to leave until Thanksgiving morning."

The report found that the worst congestion Wednesday from downtown to Los Angeles International Airport on the southbound 110 Freeway will be between 7 and 8 a.m., with an average delay of 15 minutes.

It also found that trips to Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, the second busiest mall in the country, will be 71% longer on Black Friday than on an average Friday. The worst times to drive to the mall will be between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Though the delays in L.A. are severe, underlying them is some good news, Bak said.

The region's traffic problems are the result of the city's growing economy and low gasoline prices, he said. More people are on the roads traveling and shopping as employment rises in the region, he said. Plus, the streets will be packed not just with Angelenos headed to the airport, but with folks visiting the city and bringing their tourist dollars with them.

"Where there's economic growth in our cities we're seeing a huge return of traffic congestion," he said.

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

Follow @skarlamangla on Twitter for more L.A. news.

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