Saturday, July 25, 2015

I-10 in California near Desert Center OPEN and FLOWING

As of Friday afternoon, lanes have been open to two-way traffic at the site of last week's bridge collapse near Desert Center on I-10.
I-10 near Desert Center OPEN and FLOWING (Courtesy Google Maps)

According to Google Maps and verified by several drivers through the site, traffic is surprisingly moving well.  Through the closure zone, speed limits are reduced to 45 MPH which help funnel the traffic from both directions into the 2 westbound lanes being used for through traffic.

Expect up to 30 minutes in delay, but at this point, it is not worth taking long alternate routes unless something else drastically changes.  Bon voyage!

Friday, July 24, 2015

I-10 in California (Desert Center) reopened

This afternoon, Caltrans and CHP re-opened the I-10 to two-way traffic, with one lane open in each direction.  Through the closure zone, the speed limit will be 45 MPH.

Current Conditions on I-10 near Desert Center, Friday Afternoon, 7/24/15 (Source: Google Maps)

Expect delays of at least 30-60 minutes.  Alternate routes are still advised (see past blog entries for details)


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Southern California Traffic: I-10 Closure - AZ to CA ALTERNATES

This week, a huge link of the Interstate Highway system has been washed away, the I-10 in Southern California's low desert.  The "Tex Wash" eastbound bridge, about 4 miles west of Desert Center, collapsed.

UPDATED Friday 7/24, 1:35AM PDT

Caltrans officially has the stretch closed through August but is rumored to be "opening the westbound side to 2-way traffic" at noon today.  Stretches of the I-10 several miles adjacent to the closure will have speed limits reduced to 45 MPH, as all 3 lanes of traffic will have to funnel into only ONE for each direction of traffic.

I-10 CLOSED between AZ and CA - How do I get around the closure? ALTERNATES
    • This does not necessarily mean the Interstate will be functioning at its full capacity.  The bridge that collapsed served Eastbound traffic.  When officials say they will have "two-way" traffic open, the best they will be able to do now will be to alternate traffic among the existing lanes on the functional bridge.  This means that at least twice as many vehicles will be travelling through the same space, PLUS it takes time to merge all that traffic into those lanes.  This, in my estimation will cause a MINIMUM one hour delay, and depending on time of day and the volume of traffic, could be up to several hours.
    • The actual boundaries of the closure (and the only information Caltrans really provides in its list) are from Chiriaco Summit to the Junction of CA-177 in Riverside County.[due to a washout].
  • Make sure you check the CHP Incident page for updates (Make sure you click on "Indio" on upper left dragdown) for the latest information on the closure directly from CHP, as well as reports of any accidents/incidents in the area that may affect the alternate routes. 
  • I still highly recommend avoiding the site of the closure, as traffic will still be delayed at least one hour through the closure zone.  ALTERNATES listed here:
There are several ways to circumvent this closure, but none of them are really alternates in the sense that you normally consider a "frontage" road of a main highway a good alternate to the "heavy thoroughfair." Basically, you have to choose between going 100 miles out of your way, or trekking through 2-lane state highways in the middle of the summer desert.

ALSO keep in mind that it depends where you want to go.. .Phoenix to Los Angeles is a far different trip than Flagstaff to San Diego, or Orange County to Laughlin.  You really have to familiarize yourself with the maps and determine the best way for you to go.

Aside from the hour or so of planning and no matter what Google Maps says, you'll want to plan AT LEAST 2 hours longer than whatever your normal trip is.  Every road will have increased volume because there will be 20,000 vehicles a day that need to filter onto them.

All alternates are listed FROM Phoenix (Arizona) to California.  Read from bottom up (and reverse the directions) if you are leaving from California. 
  • The shortest distance route between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Phoenix is 
  • NORMALLY 374 miles long and takes just under 6 hours with no traffic (between 10pm and 5am)*
  • NOW (current available open route) is 408 miles long and takes 6 hours, 40 minutes with "no traffic," according to Google Maps:
    • From Phoenix - take I-10 West (102 miles)
    • Exit Vicksurg, take AZ-72 West (41 miles)
    • Take US-95 North (12 miles)
    • take CA-62 West (57 miles, stay right then continue 93 miles)
    • Merge with I-10 West (continue for 97 miles)
    • These are state highways, where the speed limit is usually 55 and sometimes 65 MPH.  Some areas only have one lane in one direction.  They are usually well maintained, but the slower speeds and slower volume will create more possibility of accidents and delays.
    • Caltrans lists 2 planned closures on CA-62, which may exacerbate traffic.
    • A modified version of this alternate is I-10 West, CA-177 North, CA-62 West, which adds about 13 miles to the trip and will probably be more delayed, as this is the most popular alternate being offered my media outlets.
  • Lesser-offered alternate:  440 miles, 7.5-8 hours, south side of Salton Sea:
    • From Phoenix - take I-10 West
    • In Blythe, take CA-78 South to CA-86 North
    • This will probably be the lesser-traveled of the alternates.  Officials are most likely not offering it as a viable alternative because these roads pass through smaller towns and may not be able to handle heavy volumes of traffic.
  • AZ-60 (through Wickenburg) to I-40 west, I-15 South to I-10 (Through Flagstaff and Barstow)- approx. 8.5-9 hours, but most likely the least-traveled alternate because it is so far out of the way.
  • I-8 to CA-111 North to CA-86 North (7.5-8.5 hours) - susceptible to accidents on two-lane state highways - Also there is a Border Patrol Checkpoint on I-8 which will slow things down.
  • I-8 to I-15 or I-5 north (El Centro through San Diego County) (7.5-8.5 hours)
*While overnight hours have the lowest volume of traffic, they also are the usual times for construction and maintenance work, and are usually the times of high speeds and severe accidents.

Keep in mind that all time estimates assume travel from Downtown Phoenix to Downtown Los Angeles.  Leaving from outlying areas (Mesa, Peoria), and going to outlying areas (Orange County, San Fernando Valley) will augment the drive time, particularly during rush hours.

Please comment with questions or additional input that would be helpful to navigate around the Southern California I-10 Closure between AZ and CA


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LA Traffic Expert: Holiday Traffic Helper - July 4th Weekend

Gain a little more piece of mind getting out of LA this weekend…

Every holiday weekend, there’s some national study that comes out that cites we’ll be sitting in traffic 2-3 times heavier than usual.  But that’s all it is – a study.  Instead, I offer a bit of USEFUL information for your drive in Southern California, whether you’re headed to the desert or mountains to visit family, or out of state to Vegas or “the River” for a getaway.

July 4th weekend ranks among the top getaway holidays, perhaps only second to Thanksgiving weekend, which is usually only worse because Socal’s rainy season is unofficially underway then.  Summer time (in “traffic terms.” The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day) usually sees lighter volume on Socal freeways because of vacationing students as well as workers, so that is one plus.

This year, July 4th falls on a Saturday.  Generally, on holiday weekends, when the holiday is on a Monday (Memorial Day, Labor Day), Thursday becomes the “prime” traffic day to leave town, often creating traffic patterns worse than those found on a “typical” Friday.  Since this year’s holiday is on Saturday, it is a fair assumption that the peak traffic day will be Wednesday.

Typical Friday Afternoon Drive traffic patterns on Los Angeles/Ventura County Freeways (courtesy Google maps)

This map shows the typical traffic patterns in Southern California on a Friday afternoon.  While it appears as if things can’t get worse (there is SO much red!), on “holiday traffic” days, the actual quanitified delay can be more that twice as long.  Instead of average speeds of 10-15 mph (that’s what the dark red stands for), you can expect average speeds of 5-10 mph in many places.
In case you are geographically or spatially challenged, I have broken down each area and freeway so that you can get a better idea of how long the drive will take you.  If you need to leave on Wednesday, bring your favorite audio book or game to play with your kids in the car while driving.  While a safe alternative might be to leave Thursday or Friday, you’ll still be sitting in a fair amount of traffic then too.

Listed below are the approximate heaviest traffic spots on each freeway, with approximate drive times (normal drive, typical traffic drive, holiday drive – respectively):

(Key – NB/Northbound, SB/Southbound, EB/Eastbound, WB/Westbound)

“Outbound Drives “ – Los Angeles/Ventura County

  • 101 (Ventura Freeway) – NB (WB) from 23 to Johnson Dr – 30 mins, 55 mins, 85 mins.
  • 405 (San Diego Freeway) – NB from LAX to 101 – 20 mins, 60 mins, 90 mins.
  • 405 (San Diego Freeway) – NB from 405 to 5 – 5 mins, 20 mins, 40 mins.
    5 (Golden State Freeway) – NB from San Fernando Mission Bl to 14 – 10 mins, 25 mins, 45 mins.
  • 5 (Golden State Freeway) – NB from 10/60/101 (East LA Interchange) to 118 – 25 mins, 50 mins, 80 mins.
  • 405 (San Diego Freeway) – SB from 101 to LAX – 15 mins, 45 mins, 90 mins.
  • 405 (San Diego Freeway) – SB from 105 to 710 – 20 mins, 40 mins, 60 mins.
  • 101 (Ventura Freeway) – EB/WB between Parkway Calabasas and 170/134 – 30 mins, 60 mins, 80 mins.
  • 10 (Santa Monica Freeway) – EB/WB between 405 and 10/60/5/101 (East LA Interchange) – 20 mins, 45 mins, 70 mins.
  • 210 (Foothill Freeway) – EB from 134 to 57 – 25 mins, 60 mins, 90 mins. (NB 605 bunches up approaching the 210 merge as well)
  • 10 (San Bernardino Freeway) – EB from 710 to 57 – 20 mins, 45 mins, 80 mins.
  • 60 (Pomona Freeway) – EB from 5 to 57 – 30 mins, 60 mins, 90 mins.
  • 101 (Hollywood Freeway) – NB/SB between 134/170 and 110 – 15 mins, 40 mins, 70 mins.
  • 5 (Santa Ana Freeway) – NB/SB between 10/60/101 (East La Interchange) and Valley View Av – 20 mins, 45 mins, 80 mins.
  • 105 (Glenn Anderson Fwy) – EB from Crenshaw to 605 – 15 mins, 30 mins, 50 mins.
  • 91 (Gardena/Artesia Fwy) – EB from 110 to 605 – 15 mins, 35 mins, 55 mins.  
  • 605 (San Gabriel River Fwy) - NB/SB between 60 and 105 - 15 mins, 35 mins, 50 mins. 
  • 710 (Long Beach Fwy) - SB from 5 to 105 - 5 mins, 15 mins, 25 mins.

Typical Friday afternoon traffic patterns - Orange County/Inland Empire (courtesy Google Maps)

"Outbound" Drives - Orange County/Inland Empire (San Bernardino/Riverside Counties)

  • 57 (Orange Fwy) NB from 91 to 60 - 15 mins, 45 mins, 90 mins.
  • 55 (Costa Mesa Fwy) NB from 405 to 22 - 10 mins, 25 mins, 40 mins
  • 91 (Riverside Fwy) EB from 57 to 15 - 25 mins, 75 mins, 120 mins.
  • 405 (San Diego Fwy) NB from Jamboree to Brookhurst - 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins.
  • 5 (Santa Ana Fwy) NB from Culver Dr to 22 - 15 mins, 35 mins, 50 mins.
  • 5 (San Diego Fwy) NB from 405 merge (El Toro Y) to Oso Pkwy - 5 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins.
  • 5 (San Diego Fwy) SB from PCH (Dana Point) to Camp Pendleton - 30 mins, 60 mins, 80 mins.
  • 15 (Ontario Fwy) NB from 210 to 138 - 20 mins, 45 mins, 90 mins.
  • 15 (Ontario Fwy) SB from 10 to 15 - 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins.
  • 15 (Ontario Fwy) SB from 91 to Weirick Rd - 10 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins.
  • 215 NB/SB between 60 and 10 - 10 mins, 25 mins, 35 mins
  • 10 (San Bernardino Fwy) EB from 57 to 215 - 25 mins, 45 mins, 70 mins
  • 60 (Pomona Fwy) EB from 57 to 15 - 15 mins, 35 mins, 50 mins
  • 60 (Pomona Fwy) EB from Rubidoux to 215 (Moreno Valley) - 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins.

"Outbound" Drives - Deserts and Inland Valleys (Kern/San Bernardino/Santa Barbara Counties)

  • 101 NB from Bates Rd (Carpinteria) to Downtown Santa Barbara - 20 mins, 40 mins, 55 mins.
  • 58 EB approaching Kramer Junction (Hwy 395 - stop light) - usually no delay, up to 5 mile delay on holidays
  • 15 NB - between 58 (Barstow) and 247 (Baker) - 70 mins, 100 mins, 120 mins.
  • 15 NB - between 247 (Baker) and Primm (Stateline/NV) - 60 mins, 90 mins, 120 mins.

RETURNING drives - 

Since July 4th falls on a Saturday this year, returning traffic may likely build up on Sunday.  Approximate travel times below are normal traffic, Sunday traffic patterns, and "holiday" Sunday traffic patterns, respectively:

  • 101 SB from Downtown Santa Barbara to 126 (Ventura) - 60 mins, 90 mins, 120 mins.
  • 5 SB from 126 to 14 (Newhall Pass) - 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins.
  • 15 SB from Stateline to Baker - 60 mins, 90 mins, 140 mins (often traffic is exacerbated, but not caused by the Agricultural Inspection station about 25 miles outside of Barstow)
  • 15 SB from Baker to 58 (Barstow) - 75 mins, 100 mins, 130 mins.
  • 10 WB from Banning City limits to 60 split - 20 mins, 40 mins, 60 mins.
  • 5 NB from Oceanside City limits through Camp Pendleton - 30 mins, 60 mins, 90 mins.
  • 91 WB from 15 to Coal Cyn - 10 mins, 30 mins, 60 mins.

This article brought to you by SoCalTraffic Expert, Randy Keith
Randy Keith has 10 years of traffic reporting experience from the air and studio.
Please send comments/feedback/corrections to