L.A. drivers to face nation’s worst traffic on day before Thanksgiving

Traffic jams the 110 Freeway as drivers make their weekend getaways five days before Christmas in 2013.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Angelenos will face the worst traffic in the country on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 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-based 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, San Francisco and Seattle, where drivers will also see a roughly one-third increase in travel times.


For those who need to get somewhere in L.A. on Wednesday, Bak recommends leaving before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid the ultimate traffic peak expected between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Better yet, he said, “wait to leave until Thanksgiving morning.”

“However, if accidents or a major storm hit, all bets are off,” Bak said. Though a storm is unlikely in L.A., more cars on the road means a higher chance of accidents, he said.

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

It also projects that trips to Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, among the 10 busiest shopping malls in the country, will be 71% longer on Black Friday than on an average Friday. The worst times to travel to the mall will be between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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

The region’s traffic problems are due to the city’s growing economy combined with low gas prices, he said. More people are on the roads traveling and shopping as employment numbers rise 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.


At least that’s something to be thankful for.

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