Why Your LA-to-Vegas Commute Just Got Slower


The sun is setting on your California getaway, and you’re ready to trek home to Las Vegas. You leave behind the hell that is Los Angeles traffic and make it to Interstate 15. There’s just one major hurdle left between you and the open road: the Devore interchange.

Before Interstate 215 merges into I-15, at the base of the Cajon Pass, traffic comes to a standstill, with drivers limping for an hour along a stretch of road that under normal conditions should take 10 minutes to navigate.

Several elements are at work here slowing your homecoming. Some 1 million drivers use the interchange each week, commuting from L.A. jobs to cheaper desert housing, heading for Vegas or the Colorado River, and hauling goods cross-country from ocean ports. In fact, 21,000 semitrailers traverse the route daily, slowing to a crawl as the steep grade of the Cajon Pass kicks in. Making matters worse, the freeway also loses a lane, creating what the Federal Highway Administration has called one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.

The good news: Work is under way to improve the congestion. The bad news: It’s getting worse before it gets better.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) broke ground a year ago on a $324 million upgrade that will take I-15 from three lanes to four, adding a lane in each direction starting from two miles south of the interchange to one mile north. Crews will also add a 2-mile truck bypass lane off to the right of the interchange to improve flow and safety, Caltrans spokeswoman Joy Sepulveda says. In the meantime, don’t expect to break any personal Southern California-to-Vegas speed records for the next couple of years, as work is slated to continue through mid-2016. One thing you can do before your next trip: Check conditions and sign up for email alerts at DevoreInterchangeProject.com.