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Navigating Around San Francisco Traffic


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I live in the area, and tow my 30 ft toyhauler most weekends. Definitely a good idea to avoid rush hour(s). Travelling north to south is good, no tolls ($5 per axle going south to north crossing any bridge). If you want the shortest route, from Petaluma, tske 101 to 580 and over the Richmond Bridge, then to 880. Take 238 to 580 in San Leandro if you want to go over to the 5, or keep going down 880 to get to 101 south. 580 thru oakland is curvy and has weight limits. 5 or 101 should be similar in time for an RV, since you're limited by the 55mph speed. Stop in Pismo and SLO and santa barbara if u head down the 101!

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That still goes through Berkeley/Oakland, which can be as bad or worse. To avoid those, take Rt 37 Novato-Vallejo, I-780 to Concord, I-680 to Pleasanton, and I-580 to I-5.

 

If it were me, I'd take the GG Bridge, then 19th ave to I-280 to Cal 85 to US 101 south of San Jose. From there, if you really need to get to I-5, take Cal 152 or Cal 198 to the central valley. They have some mountains but they're good roads. 19th Ave is city but it's a through route, and fewer tricky lane changes than the Oakland route. I-280/Cal 85 is a great road except during rush hour.

Worst obstacle I can think of on that route is the narrow lanes on 101 through the Presidio. Traffic should be easier to deal with than the East Bay, I would think.

 

 

From Petaluma take 101 south to San Rafael and then east on 580 all the way to 5.

 

Aside -Tolls are no longer collected at the Golden Gate Bridge. All south bound traffic must pay their toll online at http://goldengate.org/tolls/

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As you can see, there are multiple choices. bobk3d also outlines some good routes, i only choose to avoid the GG because I live in the East Bay so I rarely need to tow over to the Peninsula, and because of the toll. The best route will highly depend on traffic, I suggest looking at the current traffic conditions on Google Maps or Waze right before you embark on the trip, and then choose accordingly.

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The reason I suggested the GG bridge is because there's a fairly short section of heavy traffic, and it's fairly straightforward with not many merges or lane changes compared to the East Bay route.

 

But one other route I forgot to mention, and this is worth checking out:

 

Take Cal Route 37 Novato-Vallejo, I-780/I-680 to Concord, then take Cal Route 4 east from Concord to I-5 near Stockton. East of Antioch, Cal 4 is 2-lane across the Sacramento River Delta, a good straight through road, and very scenic.

 

I don't know how bad traffic is in Vallejo, that's an area I'm not familiar with. But my guess is that it's the easiest route for traffic, and it's probably the flattest route by a long shot.

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Vallejo proper usually has traffic during rush hour (people going towards the city in the morning and reverse in the evening) and weekends during the day (traffic to and from Vacaville outlets, and weekend warriors going back to the city). If you go during rush hour, try to hit is as a reverse commute ( ie head away from the city in the morning). Oh, and if you are travelling with multiple people, you can take advantage of the HOV lanes (be careful, some are 3+). When we head out for weekends, we never leave our house before 8PM on Friday, and try to not come back into the Bay Area until after 8PM on Sundays. Otherwise, we'll just waste time in traffic just about everywhere.

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