Can you help me predict Orange County traffic?
April 22, 2014 9:36 AM   Subscribe

How long will it take me to drive from LAX to Irvine/Newport Beach at 4pm on a Friday?

I'm flying into LAX this Friday and then driving to Irvine/Newport Beach. My flight gets in at 3pm, I pick up my rental at Enterprise and then drive the 45 miles down.

If I can conceivably get my car and get on the road by 4pm, how long do you think it will take me to drive to Irvine with insane-o OC traffic?
posted by anthropoid to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total)
An hour and a half to roughly two hours.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:43 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hate to be flip, but Friday afternoon traffic is generally terrible, everywhere and in all directions. My commute home from work (Burbank to East LA) is usually 20 minutes and very little traffic. On Fridays all bets are off.

You should budget indefinite time and not make any plans at the other end. On preview, two hours sounds about right to me. Maybe a little longer, if you're unlucky.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have a carpool buddy? This will halve it.
posted by Talez at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2014

Yeah, I was going to say two hours of unbelievably frustrating LA/OC traffic hell. The 405 is a teeming mass of barely crawling automobiles during Friday rush hour.
posted by bedhead at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you haven't already, you might want to consider downloading Waze. Bring your car charger, it will SUCK power from your phone, but MAN is this app the gill!

I use it to route my afternoon commute and it not only gives me turn by turn instructions, but it routes me around other commuters. It's a Thomas Guide on steroids!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:57 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would allow for 2 hours, but I would guess an hour and a half give or take. You're sort of getting mixed in with different groups of commuters so it will speed up and bog down depending on where you are. For example, LAX to Long Beach will be busy, but Long Beach to Costa Mesa not as bad. Costa Mesa into Irvine gets busy again at that hour.
posted by cecic at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Holy crap this is so helpful. I DO have a carpool buddy! and I will download Waze. Our hotel is near John Wayne Airport, so we are not going into Newport Beach itself...
posted by anthropoid at 10:04 AM on April 22, 2014

2 hours sounds about right.
posted by shino-boy at 10:18 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing two hours, and use Waze. Or, better yet, chill in L.A. for a few hours. Go to Santa Monica and have dinner or walk on the beach. Head south around 8pm.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:22 AM on April 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I was just writing a response warning about how you should budget extra time for navigating in Irvine once you get off the freeway (because it's so terrible and slow during rush hour and if you miss your turn or something there are no second chances, the lights are incredibly long, and you can never make a U turn, etc., etc.) but if you are only going to John Wayne airport then you actually miss all of that. I was originally going to say two hours or more, but I think an hour and a half is more realistic if you're not going south of John Wayne. Or less probably if you are carpooling.
posted by treese at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2014

I hate Friday afternoon traffic so much that I second BlahLaLa about chilling in LA until around 8. Friday rush hour traffic pretty much goes from 3 pm-9 pm, and the 405 is where dreams go to die.
posted by yasaman at 10:41 AM on April 22, 2014

With a carpool partner and stopping at John Wayne, I'm going to revise my estimate down to about an hour. Hope you come back and update this with how long it took you!
posted by cecic at 10:45 AM on April 22, 2014

If you decide to chill for a bit before wading into traffic, I recommend driving 4 miles north to Marina Del Rey. There are some waterfront places, and you can chill out on the water, in the sunshine for a couple of hours.

It's a chain, but I've always liked the Chart House. They have a yummy Happy Hour menu.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:32 AM on April 22, 2014

Hanging out in LA until 8 was our original plan, but client will already be in Irvine waiting. All things considered, I am actually going to just change my flight to get in at 11am so I can avoid the traffic mess...

Thanks, everyone!
posted by anthropoid at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2014

I was debating if this would be helpful to add, so let me tell you that I live in Santa Monica, and when I take the occasional 7pm-ish class in Costa Mesa I leave in the afternoon and go to Target, go sit with coffee somewhere, and then grab a quick bite before class. I totally indorse changing your flight. It's a PITA no matter what, no sense in stressing about being late for your appointment on top of everything else.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2014

Glad you're changing your flight, but you should still budget 2 hours just in case. Shit tends to happen when it comes to LA traffic.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:05 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Changing your flight is an excellent strategy. Don't backtrack to Marina del Rey though -- sorry, but that is about as bland and corporate as beachside L.A. gets, with the bonus of grody marina water and insufferable traffic...and there are much prettier beachside stopovers on your way to OC. If you want recs for places to stop en route to OC, just holler.
posted by nacho fries at 1:29 PM on April 22, 2014

Can you change your flight to fly into John Wayne? 'Cause seriously, you couldn't pay me to get on the 405 at 4pm on a Friday (or at 3pm, or even at 2pm). Sorry.
posted by vignettist at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I commuted between west LA (just N of LAX) and south Irvine (about 8 miles south of John Wayne) 2012-2013 - 54 miles one-way on the 405. I highly recommend either changing your flight to earlier, as you suggested, or flying into John Wayne.
posted by hootenatty at 2:43 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I read this question and immediately thought "lol." But really, I agree with the 2 hour estimate, but highly suggest changing your flight. Next time, you should try to fly into John Wayne.
posted by Red Desk at 2:48 PM on April 22, 2014

Yeah, don't do that. If you can arrange it, arrive in john Wayne instead of LAX. Or at least Long Beach (which is a lovely little airport, and much closer to OC)
posted by paultopia at 4:05 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Google Maps estimates traffic and future commutes quite well, and since Google bought Waze, I would think that it includes Waze's realtime data, as well as what it was already getting from other sources.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2014

For those suggesting John Wayne - there are very few direct flights there from NYC and I'd rather drive in traffic than have a connection. FWIW, we changed our flights and we'll be driving to OC around 11am. Much easier, I hope!
posted by anthropoid at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

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