With more than 53 million Americans expected to travel for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, planning ahead is the best strategy for avoiding unnecessary delays and gridlock, according to AAA.
With an estimated 13% more travelers taking to the roads and skies for the 2021 holiday than in 2020, this means paying particular attention to routes and thoroughfares prone to bottlenecks when work-week traffic collides with mad-dash travelers bypassing the river and the woods for the interstate and the freeway.
According to transportation analytics firm INRIX, Thanksgiving is expected to remain one of the nation’s busiest holidays for road trips, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic nearly two years after it began.
“Drivers around major metros must be prepared for significant delays, especially Wednesday afternoon. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic,” INRIX transportation analyst Bob Pishue said in a prepared statement.
At a minimum, major metro areas nationwide could see more than twice the delays compared with typical drive times, while drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City are likely to experience more than three-fold delays, he added, offering the following snapshot:
Worst Corridors and Times to Travel:
|Metro Area||Corridor||Peak Congestion||% Above Normal|
|Atlanta||I-85 South, Clairmont Road to MLK Drive||Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.||340%|
|Boston||I-93 North, Quincy Market to Massachusetts Highway 28||Wednesday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.||240%|
|Chicago||I-290 West, Morgan Street to Wolfe Road||Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m.||329%|
|Detroit||I-96 West, 6 Mile Road to Walled Lake||Wednesday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.||211%|
|Houston||I-10 West, Sjolander Road to Texas Highway 330||Wednesday, 3:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m.||344%|
|Los Angeles||I-5 South, Colorado Street to Florence Avenue||Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.-5:45 p.m.||385%|
|New York||I-495 East, Borden Avenue to Little Neck Parkway||Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.||482%|
|San Francisco||I-80 East, I-580 to San Pablo Dam Road||Wednesday, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.||278%|
|Seattle||I-5 South, Washington Highway 18 to Washington Highway 7||Wednesday, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.||257%|
|Washington, D.C.||I-95 South, I-395 to Virginia Highway 123||Wednesday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.||230%|
Meanwhile, what time travelers strike out can make almost as much difference in their travel time as the routes they choose. According to INRIX, the following are the projected best and worst times to hit the road:
Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel:
|Day||Best Time||Worst Time|
|Wednesday||After 9 p.m.||noon-8 p.m.|
|Thursday||Before 11 a.m.||noon-3 p.m.|
|Friday||Before 11 a.m.||1 p.m.-4 p.m.|
|Saturday||Before noon||2 p.m.-7 p.m.|
|Sunday||Before noon||1 p.m.-7 p.m.|
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