I think Caltrans is specifically conspiring to make it as difficult as possible for us to get home from Orange County on a Sunday night. Last night, we had dinner with friends at Downtown Disney (which was very nice), but it ended up taking us close to 2 hours to get home to Van Nuys, mostly due to multiple construction projects.
We left the Disneyland Resort a little before 11pm and traffic on the North 5 was moving along at pretty much full speed until just past the 91 interchange, where it came to almost a complete halt. I wasn’t able to see the brake lights until we were too far past the 91 to cut over to it as an alternate route. The big problem at this point was that they were doing construction work that had all but the far left lane closed. This brought traffic to a near stand-still, even fairly late at night.
While in this, I heard a traffic report on the radio indicating that there was a Sig Alert at the Slauson exit a bit further north, so I definitely wanted to get off the 5. I decided to try and exit at either Auto Center Drive or Beach Blvd. and then cut across surface streets to the 91. It turned out that the Auto Center Drive exit was closed completely, but there wasn’t a "ramp closed" sign until you were pretty much right at it. That actually resulted in me merging to the right at one point into a lane that was about to end, because I didn’t realize the exit ramp wasn’t accessible. I then continued to stay as far right as I could, since there were no signs indicating where I needed to be to get off at Beach, assuming that exit was even opened. It did turn out to be opened, but it took us about 20-30 minutes (I lost track of the exact time) or so to go the 1-2 miles from the start of the construction zone to the exit.
The Beach exit actually drops you onto Auto Center Drive, just a bit north of the exit for that road specifically. You then turn onto Beach at the next light. When we got to Beach, we found that it was actually closed as well at that intersection. That meant that we then had to turn on Stanton instead and then cut over to Beach near Knott’s Berry Farm in order to backtrack over to the 91. Just to further my rant against road work, I should mention here that we did get stuck behind a sweet sweeper for part of the way as we went down Stanton.
The 91 was basically smooth going. We then got off on the N-710 and found that they had the 2 left lanes closed on that road as well. Fortunately, we were only going a short distance there (up to the 105) and traffic is generally light enough on the 710 that time of night that the construction didn’t slow things down that much. It didn’t take us very long to get onto the 105-W, which we then took over to the 405-N.
The 405 wasn’t too bad through the LAX area, but then slowed to a crawl right around Culver Blvd. Yes, as you probably guessed by now, Caltrans had a couple lanes closed for construction between Culver and the 10 interchange. That stretch of road is pretty bad even under the best of circumstances (this is one of the busiest stretches of road in the country), so traffic was once again barely moving. Obviously, this wasn’t as bad as it could have been during rush hour, but it still took quite a while to get through there. To make matters worse, I was starting to need a restroom pretty badly, which helped to make the rest of the drive even more miserable. With the traffic largely stopped, it would have been incredibly difficult to force our way over to the right to get off at any of the exits. In addition, it was after midnight by this point, so I think there was little chance that there would have been anywhere opened with public restrooms that were both available and safe to use.
Once we got past that construction zone, fortunately traffic was moving pretty much full speed the rest of the way. By this time, we were all pretty completely wiped out and miserable, of course. In fact, I ended up getting home and sending a note off to my boss at work that I was planning to come in late this morning (they owe me a few hours anyway…), so I guess I should probably head there once I finish typing this.
I certainly do see the need for construction work on the freeways, and I understand why Sunday nights are a good time to do it, but last night certainly was frustrating. I couldn’t help but think that there must have been some way that they could have better planned the projects so that someone driving a fairly common route (Orange County to the San Fernando Valley) wouldn’t keep continuously finding construction zones pretty much everywhere they turned.