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Traffic Returning To San Diego Freeways, But Not To Pre-Pandemic Level ... Yet

An electronic sign on state Route 56 in Rancho Peñasquitos on Aug. 16, 2020, advising residents the correct way to wear a mask to stem the spread of the coronavirus in California.
Alexander Nguyen
An electronic sign on state Route 56 in Rancho Peñasquitos on Aug. 16, 2020, advising residents the correct way to wear a mask to stem the spread of the coronavirus in California.

Southern California's freeways are getting more crowded, but traffic levels are still not back to what they were before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Southern California freeways became remarkably uncongested in April and March when traffic on the freeway was cut in half.

Traffic Returning To San Diego Freeways, But Not To Pre-Pandemic Level … Yet
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

The California Transportation Department, Caltrans, reports traffic is still down 15% to 20% below pre-lockdown levels.

RELATED: Coronavirus Has Reduced Air Pollution, But Not The Risk In Some San Diego Communities

There is, however, a downside to less traffic.

“The negative side of that is that with fewer cars there were increased speeds,” said Gustavo Dallarda, District 11 director for Caltrans. “And with those speeds, they haven’t really gone down even as traffic is picking up back to normal.”

There is also a lot more trash on the side of the road because there aren’t crews to clean up, according to Dallarda.

RELATED: San Diego Is Shrinking Carbon Footprint During Coronavirus Shutdown

On the upside, fewer vehicles mean more opportunities and more time for road repair.

“Right now for example we’re able to start some closures in the early afternoon and go way into the morning,” Dallarda said.

“Normally we may not start these closures until nine p.m. at night or ten o’clock at night and we have to reopen the area by four o’clock in the morning when the traffic starts building up.”

Regional planners are still trying to figure out the long-term impact of how telecommuting and other coping strategies that affected traffic during the pandemic.

Video: Traffic Returning To San Diego Freeways, But Not To Pre-Pandemic Level … Yet