LA Traffic Bleg

OK, I have to drive on Thursday from San Diego to make a meeting around 10AM just north of LA off I-5.  I am willing to believe that there is no good way across town this time of day, and the only reasonable approach is to leave early and bring emergency rations.  However, if anyone has any advice as to the best way to thread my way south to north through LA during morning rush hour, leave a comment.

Update:  Thanks everyone.  I actually have to be in Ventura County via Santa Clarita so I will probably take the 15 and go around.  I also decided to take my (teenage) kids along to get the carpool lane.  Going to ditch them at Magic Mountain (not a bad fate) as I pass by.  I have my iPad charged with traffic, and will just get up early.


  1. dearieme:

    Drive the night before and camp out when you get there?

  2. Mark Sundstrom:

    I would just go early, like you're doing, but wanted to make sure you knew about Google Map's traffic overlay, where you can view historical trends by weekday and time of day. Better than nothing.

  3. Hal:

    Take someone with you, so you can use the diamond lanes. and leave early.
    Avoid the 405 thru west LA, take the 5.

    Good luck

  4. David Zetland:

    I agree with Hal (look for casual carpooling pick ups or try craigslist, but avoid serial killers), but I'd also stick with the 405 as far as possible. I-5 can be a disaster in traffic...

  5. Matt:

    An M1 Abrams main battle tank would seem like a good idea. :)

  6. Johnathan:

    Look into the Waze mobile phone application. It uses real-time (automated) traffic updates from its users to provide routing directions that adapt very quickly as conditions change, and was specifically designed for rush hour commuting.


  7. Evil Red Scandi:

    Depends on how far north. Sometimes I take I-15 and then cut back west. That's not always practical for certain destinations (like if you're going to someplace like Irvine, Long Beach or Wilmington), but it's not really *that* far out of the way for others (like downtown LA, Hollywood, etc).

    Oh, and yes, I know that Irvine and Long Beach are technically in Orange County. As far as people from San Diego are concerned, everything between Camp Pendleton and Santa Barbara is "LA." Same traffic, same crime, same smog.

  8. Evil Red Scandi:

    That being said, the I-15 is usually much better but nothing in LA is guaranteed, ever. Land of the random 3 AM, 10-mile-long traffic jam (especially on the 405). If you *must* be there at 10 and can't reschedule for a more humane hour like noon or 1PM, just suck it up and leave early.

  9. zjohna:


  10. delurking:


  11. Mike S:

    Take some high-speed rail.

  12. Maggie:

    Nothing is certain in LA, but I think your best bet is this. Take the I-5 North, then the 73 Toll Road to the 405. Stay on the 405 to the 710 North, then take the 710 to the 10 West for a few miles to the 5 North. (This will avoid the worst parts of the 5 and take you around downtown traffic.) After that the 5 shouldn't be too bad, since people are coming into LA from the north.

    Even better, if you can bring a GPS with traffic alerts, do that. A good one can steer you around accidents and traffic jams.

  13. Sean:

    I used to live in the east San Gabriel Valley but it has been a long time since I left. I have driven I-5 a couple of years ago to go to a hospital in Hollywood and it got kind of slow on I-5 between Anaheim and downtown LA. If you meeting is close to Glendale at all, I follow the advice of others to go I-15 to the 210 freeway and then head west. You can shorten that a bit if you take I-15 to 60 west to 71 north go 57 north but 71 has some bottlenecks.

  14. Steve:

    Some of the above suggestions along with a GPS navigation unit with traffic updates. That device in my car has kept me out of many a jam.

  15. Agammamon:

    Take I-15 to Hwy-78. You'll bypass San Diego traffic south of Oceanside. Its what most of us do when we have to go up to Camp Pendleton.

    Otherwise you're best bet is to take I-15 up to I-210.

  16. Agammamon:

    Thougn now that I think of it - I-15 should have significantly less traffic northbound in the morning than I-5 will.

  17. Another guy named Dan:

    "...And when you get to the Slauson cutoff, get out of your car and cut off your Slauson..."

    The legendary Art Fern

  18. Shotgunner:

    I live near LA. It all depends on exactly where you are going and the time constraints on your travels. If the meeting is north of LA then we need to be specific. Is it Hollywood, Simi Valley, Castaic, Bakersfield??

    I'd be glad to chat with you if you wish to discuss it in detail. My email is in the comment header and I'll look for your email to send you my cellular.


  19. Shotgunner:

    the email in your contact link is broken

  20. RealityCheck:

    Why do you people put a THE in front of a route? I take 80, not THE 80 and never The Eight Oh.

  21. Don Anderson:

    Use a light plane. (First you have to get a private pilots license - unless you can afford to pay charter fees. But becoming a proficient & safe pilot is fun, not difficult - especially for an engineer.) If you own your own plane it's a challenge, but very rewarding. A used Cessna 172 costs from $30k up. If you take off from an airport in the LA area to go to Frisco, you'll be landing in the Frisco area in about the time it takes to drive across LA & wait thru the boarding -- around the airliner's take off time. The 120mph Cessna thus beats the 550mph airliner.

  22. GoneWithTheWind:

    Whatever way you go take a container to piss in so you don't have to fight your way off to use the restroom and then fight your way back on to the freeway. My experience is if you leave before 6 am you will get there an hour to an hour and a half early but if you leave at 6:30 to 7 you will get there an hour to an hour and a half late.

  23. perlhaqr:

    Motorcycle. Lane splitting is legal in CA.

  24. Brad Warbiany:

    Now, I live in OC, not SD, but I'm not sure I agree with the folks suggesting the 15. That means you have to cut across on either the 91 (hell), 60 (ugh), 10 (ugh), or 210 (ugh) in morning commute traffic. This is when all the folks from the 909 ("Inland Empire") are coming into town on their commute.

    I'd seriously second the folks that suggest driving up the night before and just crashing at a hotel. SD->North LA is a 2-2.5 hour drive without traffic, and fighting morning commute, could easily be 3.5 (I usually budget 1.5 hours at least to merely get from South OC (Laguna Hills) to north LA at that time of day.

    But if you persist in driving up that morning, I suggest you leave early and take I-5.

    If you end up driving up this evening, though, email me and I'll host you for a beer :-)

  25. BillS:

    "North of LA off I-5" isn't quite enough information as I-5 goes way North and LA has lots of percieved boundaries.

    Definitely allow yourself 3-4 hours so for a 10 AM meeting I suggest a 6AM departure. The bad good news is your route north out of SD is traffic free whatever time you leave until you get into OC.

    Now this is where the where north of LA comes in. If you are above the Norther I5/405 merge then your best bet may be the 5-73 Toll- 405 to 5. Avoids downtown LA.

    If you are headed somewhere south of that, the suggestion to exit the 405 for the 710 makes alot of sense.

    Staying on the 5 has some simplicity but as you get into the heart of LA that get's ugly.

    Good Luck.

  26. Brad Warbiany:

    Oh, also:

    As you approach the southern end of the 405/5 "Y", make sure you use their mobile site to check northbound traffic on the 5 and 405. That may give you a big red flag in case there is an accident or other acute event affecting traffic along the route.

  27. Mark2:

    @Reality check, it is a southern CA thing. IN SF area, they don't use The, having lived in both areas, I use both depending on where I used the freeway most.

    So I will tell you to take 101, but The 5 for instance.

  28. Not Sure:

    "Oh, and yes, I know that Irvine and Long Beach are technically in Orange County." Irvine in Orange County? Yes. Long Beach, not so much. But it's close. :)

  29. Brad Warbiany:

    Oh, and Evil Red Scandi, I wouldn't say that Irvine has anywhere near the same traffic, crime, or smog as LA. And where I live farther south in OC has less of all of these than Irvine.

    Irvine may be bland, but it's certainly not dangerous.

  30. Ted Rado:

    Best idea is to cancel your trip. I lved in LA many years ago. I would rather live in Zimbabwe than go back.
    Such a madhouse of traffic and leftwing loonies I couldn't imagine, not to mention the totally FU state and local government.

  31. Will:

    Take Amtrak, won't get stuck in traffic and get your moneys worth out of the government subsidies.

  32. Matt:

    As a reluctant LA resident I wish you the best of luck. Since you will have passengers and can utilize the HOV lanes, I recommend taking the 5 North to the 405. Traffic will be slow in west LA from the 10 to the 405, but otherwise your drive should be manageable.

    Here's a map of the region's carpool lanes:

  33. Matt:

    Er, meant to write "Traffic will be slow in west LA from the 10 to the 101"

  34. Chad Pettigrew:

    If it were me, I'd take 15 to hwy 138, to hwy 18, and then 14 to your destination. It's more miles, but it will be quicker and have a far better view then the parking lot that is all the freeways in LA during that time of the day.

  35. Ron H.:


    "Why do you people put a THE in front of a route? I take 80, not THE 80 and never The Eight Oh."

    Oh well, to each his own, but I find The Eight Oh is a much easier drive than 80. :)