Los Angeles to San Marcos by car: how long will it really take?
February 5, 2009 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Los Angeles to San Marcos by car: how long will it really take?

I'm driving tomorrow from LA to San Marcos, CA for a meeting; I've never driven further south than Irvine. Google maps tells me it will take either 1 hour 45 minutes or 2 hours, 30 minutes "with traffic." That's great, but I have to be there at 8:30 AM, not a range of 45 minutes surrounding 8:30 AM. Also, I'm not sure if the route I have been given is stupid or not (Google, and the meeting organizer, suggested 405 South to CA Highway 73, to the 5, to CA Highway 78).

I was planning to leave at 6:00 AM in case there is traffic. But I am also a super-travel-anxiety person, so I'll likely stay up all night worrying about whether this is enough time (which won't really help me be fit for the meeting!). Are there any MeFites who can give me more precise advice on usual traffic for an early Friday morning, interchanges to avoid, etc.?
posted by holyrood to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (4 answers total)
Leaving by 6am should give you plenty of time, although a bit of that depends on what part of LA you're leaving from. The 73 is a toll road so traffic would be a little lighter, but you'll need to bring change. If traffic seems light and you want to skip the toll road, either the 405 or the 5 down to the 78 would be fine (depending, again, on where you're coming from). I'm not an LA resident so I can't speak to the traffic you'll face on the 405/5, although I know it's usually bad, but the 78 will be very backed up that time of morning, even though you'll be going against the rush hour traffic.

If I were you, I'd leave at 6 and feel confident I'd get there on time or a bit early. If you end up with a lot of extra time, I'm sure there'll be a coffee shop you can stop at before your meeting.
posted by booknerd at 3:12 PM on February 5, 2009

I do that drive fairly frequently (not quite to San Marcos, but about the same distance). I'd say that range is accurate. 1:45 would be with absolutely no traffic, which probably won't be the case on a Friday morning. 2 hours 15 minutes would probably be a good estimate to get you door to door with a little time to spare. Highway 73 is a toll road which can save you some time, so take that to save some anxiety. It's $5.25 for that time of day, I think. There really aren't any other routes to take.
posted by wsquared at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2009

Doesn't the 5 have some construction projects on it right now? Last October I hit some on my way out going north and I had to get off and find an alternate route.... hitting the "traffic" tab on google maps seems to place some construction icons on the route, too.

You're anxious because you live in LA and you're being forced to predict how long it will take you to drive somewhere for something important. This produces anxiety not only in conscientious super-travel-anxiety people, but also in the chronologically impaired (like myself).

You might try taking 10 or something over to 71 to 91 to 15. It will guarantee a somewhat longer trip (maybe 15 minutes minimum), but I'd say chances are better than not that once you get off the 10, you'll be going the opposite direction most of the commuter traffic is going, and therefore have lighter and potentially more predictable traffic (on the other hand, on the off chance something does clog up/shut down 15, you won't be able to change plans on the fly easily, so, you know, choose wisely).

Overall, though, I'd say the best solution is probably just to leave earlier. If the issue is whether you'll toss and turn while subconsciously worrying about this, just plan to leave at 5:30 or even 5:00, and sleep soundly in the knowledge that you have allowed a ridiculously large amount of time to make a roughly two hour drive.
posted by weston at 4:02 PM on February 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all! I had a part about where I live in LA ("the armpit of the 405 and 10 interchange") but took it out for brevity and thereby increased confusion. Sorry.
Thank you all for simultaneously allaying & confirming my fears. I'm so glad to have this foreknowledge (esp. toll $), although it also reinforced my dread at having to get up at 5:30A!
posted by holyrood at 4:27 PM on February 5, 2009

« Older What is causing the OS to stop sending signal to...   |   Mama's Got a Double Entendre Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.