Thanksgiving Traffic: Best Times To Drive In Maryland
Patch reporter Kristin Danley-Greiner wrote this story.
MARYLAND — There are about 55 million reasons to plan ahead for Thanksgiving travel this year, according to AAA. That’s the number of people expected to travel at least 50 miles between Wednesday, Nov. 22, and Sunday, Nov. 26, including the more than 49 million expected to do so by vehicle.
This year’s Thanksgiving forecast represented an increase of 2.3 percent over last year, AAA said, and marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.
Maryland highway officials shared suggested times and days to travel over the Bay Bridge and the Nice/Middleton Bridge and when to drive I-95 and the Fort McHenry Tunnel. (See the full list below.)
In the Baltimore-DC region, peak congestion is expected to peak around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, on the northbound Baltimore-Washington Parkway between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, AAA said. To travel that route, drivers and passengers ought to expect to spend 1 hour 13 minutes hours in the car that day, a 71 percent increase.
Overall, the busiest day to drive will be Wednesday, Nov. 22, from 2 to 6 p.m. For those looking to reduce their time in traffic, the best time to drive that day will be before 11 a.m.
Here are the best — and worst — overall times to drive, according to AAA.
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23
- Worst: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- Best: Before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24
- Worst: Noon - 4 p.m.
- Best: Before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25
- Worst: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
- Best: Before noon
Sunday, Nov. 26
- Worst: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
- Best: Before noon
Choose the wrong time or day to travel, and you can spend your holiday trip sitting in traffic for hours trying to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Maryland Transportation Authority suggests travel times for its major routes during the holiday period.
RECOMMENDED TIMES TO DRIVE
Bay Bridge travel times to avoid the most congested periods are:
- Tuesday, November 21 – before noon and after 8 p.m.;
- Wednesday, November 22 – before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 23 – before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m.;
- Friday, November 24 – before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.; and
- Saturday, November 25, and Sunday, November 26 – before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, November 22 – before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 23 – before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.; and
- Saturday, November 25, and Sunday, November 26 – before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.;
Weather and traffic permitting, two-way operations will be implemented to help ease eastbound delays at the Bay Bridge. Two-way operations may be limited based on westbound traffic volumes, as bridge officials strive to mitigate delays on both sides of the bridge. Two-way operations are prohibited during bridge wind warnings/restrictions, fog/limited visibility or times of precipitation, and may be prohibited during incidents.
I-95 (JFK Memorial Highway and Fort McHenry Tunnel) best times to travel include:
- Tuesday, November 21 – before noon and after 10 p.m.;
- Wednesday, November 22 – before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 23 – before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.;
- Friday, November 24 – before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.;
- Saturday, November 25 and Sunday, November 26 – before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m.; and
- Monday, November 27 – before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
The I-95 travel plazas — Chesapeake House in Cecil County at mile marker 97 and Maryland House in Harford County at mile marker 82 — will be open 24/7 with food, plus indoor and outdoor seating. Fuel and electric vehicle charging stations are available.
Nice/Middleton Bridge (US 301) between Maryland and Virginia has suggested drive times of:
- Wednesday, November 22 – before noon and after 6 p.m.; and
- Sunday, November 26 – before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
Two metro areas can expect to spend about four hours behind the wheel this holiday season: Atlanta and Houston. Meanwhile, Detroit and San Francisco families can expect to spend at least three hours in the car.
“For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement Monday. “Travel demand has been strong all year, and AAA’s Thanksgiving forecast reflects that continued desire to get away and spend time with loved ones.”
This year, people are generally paying less for domestic travel compared to last year, and more on international vacations, AAA said. The one notable exception is airplane tickets, which are slightly pricier for domestic flights this season and a bit lower for international flights.
The average price for a domestic flight is $681, according to AAA. That’s up 5 percent from 2022. However, domestic hotel prices are down 12 percent from last year to an average stay of $598.
More News from Perry Hall
- Snow Flurries Possible In MD, Windy Cold Blast Rolls In The first snowflakes of the season may fall Tuesday in Maryland. A windy cold blast could bring a few flurries.
- Salmonella-Tainted Fruit Recall Expands, Sickness Reaches Maryland A popular fruit was recalled across 32 states due to salmonella, officials say. The sickness has now reached Maryland.