The Automobile Club of Southern California says it’s expecting this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to be the busiest in Southern California since 2005, with 4.2 million residents expected to get away for the long weekend.
The vast majority of Southern California travelers—3.6 million or 86% of all travelers—will drive to their destinations, a 5% increase over last year. Another 476,000 Southern Californians are expected to fly, an increase of 6% from the 2017 holiday, while 123,000 will travel by other means, such as train or bus, up 1% from last year.
All of these statistics point to one common denominator that’s familiar to all Southern Californians: traffic congestion.
And it will come as no surprise that Los Angeles, a city notorious for its sub-optimal traffic conditions, ranks as No. 1 in the nation for traffic congestion. TomTom, a navigation technology company that indexes traffic congestion levels, says the City of Angels has a congestion level of 45% and an average commute time of 30 minutes. TomTom’s congestion percentages equate to extra travel time for commuters: so in Los Angeles, we spend 45% more time per trip (any trip, anywhere in the city, at any time) than we do in free flowing traffic.
San Diego also placed high in the national congestion rankings. The SoCal city ranks as No. 11 in the nation, with a congestion level of 27% and an average commute time of 23 minutes.
According to transportation research group TRIP, traffic congestion costs California residents a total of $28 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. Thankfully, work is underway on solutions — even for congestion hubs like Los Angeles and San Diego.
SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, now safeguarded through the rejection of Prop 6, provides funding for infrastructure programs that help address congestion.
SB 1 created the Solutions for Congested Corridors Program (SCCP) to provide $250 million annually for multimodal corridor plans that make performance improvements along the state’s busiest highways to reduce congestion throughout the state. The goals for these projects include providing more transportation choices for residents, commuters and visitors, and improving traffic flow while improving air quality and addressing environmental/health challenges.
Projects eligible for SCCP funding include: comprehensive solutions for the I-405 Corridor in Los Angeles County, and the North Coast Corridor improvements along I-5 in San Diego County.
Another SB 1 program, the State-Local Partnership Program (LPP) provides $200 million annually for community solutions to ease congestions on both state and local roads. This program provides matching funds to support the investment that local communities have made in their region through voter-approved transportation tax measures.
Approved LPP projects include: the Green Line light rail extension in Los Angeles County ($19.75 million) and the I-5 Improvement Project in Orange County ($18.24 million)