Avoid The Commuter Nightmare The Day Before Thanksgiving
Expect high traffic volume as southland prepares for holiday.
The day before thanksgiving is often synonymous with baking preparation, catching up with old friends and tidying up the house. Unfortunately for residents in Santa Clarita and across the southland, we get to do none of those things because we're stuck in traffic.
Wednesday is by far the busiest normal day of traffic on our freeways and surface streets. The pain is particularly felt by those who commute from Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley to Santa Clarita.
Starting at about 2:00 p.m. on November 25, traffic on the I-5, 405 and 118 freeways will start to back up. At its peak, the 405 freeway will likely be bumper-to-bumper south of the 118. The increased volumes so drastically overload our freeways that the effects linger into the night, often past 8:00 p.m.
The "perfect storm" of traffic is caused by a variety of factors. Santa Clarita is the gateway to northern California, and Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled holidays of the year. Unlike Christmas or New Years, the window to travel for Thanksgiving is very small, and therefore most travel occurs on the day prior to the holiday.
Additionally, workers tend to get off early or on time, sending a large collection of motorists to the roads at the same time. This effect, while on a much smaller level, is also to blame for the rough evening commute most Fridays.
So how does one avoid this? One option would be to telecommute if possible. Employers familiar with this particular traffic nightmare might be more willing to allow employees to work from home under the circumstances.
If telecommuting is not possible, make plans to stay late. Leaving early won't work, because everyone else leaves early too. So plan to stay in the area around your workplace into the evening. Grab a bite to eat, maybe stay for a movie. Talk to coworkers this week and find out if there are others who plan to avoid the rush home.
If you absolutely must be on the roads Wednesday afternoon and evening, stick to the freeways. Using a side street like Balboa or Sepulveda Blvd may work when an accident is slowing the freeway, but on nights like Wednesday, they will actually add more time to your drive. The freeways are going to be backed up, but they are much more efficient when it comes to moving high volumes of traffic. The streets will be overburdened too, however streetlights, turn lanes and intersections all make a bad situation much, much worse. Do not give in to the temptation to take side streets (of course if you do, use Woodley instead of Balboa and use the Old Road rather than Foothill Blvd).
Most importantly, for the sake of sanity, expect the traffic. Create a special play list for your iPod, roll down the window, wear comfortable driving shoes, and just be patient. Check with KHTS AM-1220 and hometownstation.com for updates on the traffic situation.
The good news is that once in Santa Clarita, traffic isn't too big of an issue. Supermarkets will be the biggest in-city challenge, followed by pizza delivery services, restaurants and late night bars.
Look at it this way; if you make it through Wednesday, you have all that much more to be thankful for on Thursday.