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Memorial Day traffic will hit peak congestion Friday afternoon

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Stay off the road between 3:30 and 5:30

Traffic on the 405
Traffic could be almost twice as bad as usual Friday afternoon, according to a report from AAA and Inrix.
Barteverett | Shutterstock

If you’re planning a getaway this Memorial Day weekend you may want to think twice about leaving Friday afternoon, according to a new report from AAA and transportation analyst Inrix.

The report projects that this will be the busiest Memorial Day in over a decade, with more than 41 million Americans embarking on trips during the three-day weekend. Locally, many of those travelers will be hitting the road around the same time, clogging roadways already jammed with typical Los Angeles traffic.

According to the report, congestion will hit peak awfulness Friday between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. During that window of time, trips will be nearly twice as long as usual.

That’s not quite as bad as New York, where, between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., drivers will have to deal with traffic almost three times worse than in typical conditions.

Graham Cookson, head of research at Inrix, says that traffic in major cities could start to worsen Wednesday, with the worst congestion—not surprisingly—coming during rush hour. Cookson recommends travelers leave “in the late morning or early afternoon” to avoid the worst traffic.

Of course, taking a train or bus is also an option. And it’s probably best to avoid LAX if you can. The report predicts it will be the nation’s fourth-busiest airport this weekend, in terms of car rentals.

On top of that, LAX expects a 6 percent bump in travelers using the airport this weekend, compared to last Memorial Day. Nearly 1 million passengers are booked on flights going in and out of LAX between Friday and Monday.

That's bound to lead to an uptick in traffic. LAX officials predict that the worst days will be Friday and Monday: more than 100,000 cars will likely go round the airport's dreaded terminal loop on both days.