Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS Radio is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in temporary signal outages.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego Freeway Traffic Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels

Photo by Erik Anderson

Freeway traffic on interstate 8 on May 21, 2012

Southern California freeway congestion has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, a sign that the COVID-19 pandemic is loosening its grip on the region.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

The evidence is not hard to find.

San Diego County’s freeways may not be jammed up in the middle of the day, but during rush hour, the multiple lane highways are increasingly packed with cars and trucks.

RELATED: Port Of San Diego, Neighboring Community Striving For Cleaner Air

Think of it as the return of the old days.

Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda there are telltale signs things are returning to normal.

“A lot of the ramp meters started activating automatically for the morning and the afternoon commute and the ramp meters activate when the freeway volumes start increasing and congestion starts building up,” Dallarda said. “So, you will see most of the days the ramp meters are on in the morning and afternoon and that’s because traffic is getting bad like it used to be.”

Dallarda says the traffic shows that the economy is getting back on track and more people are returning to their offices.

RELATED: Clean Air Day A Reminder of San Diego’s Not So Clean Air

“A year ago was when we saw some of our lowest volumes in history,” Dallarda said. “I’ve been here for 30 years and I have never seen anything like that. Most of our freeways were empty. Most of our highways were empty.”

Traffic volumes are close to pre-pandemic levels on most of the region’s major highways.

“I think with more of the economy reopening, we’re almost back to where we were in 2019 when it comes to traffic volumes,” Dallarda said.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.