An estimated 1.2 million residents will be traveling over the July 4 holiday, creating heavy traffic patterns that could last a week or more.
With July 4 falling on a Wednesday, holiday getaway traffic could begin over the weekend and extend through July 8.
New Record for July 4th Holiday Travelers
The American Automobile Association said the predicted traffic will be a new record for the Independence Day holiday in Washington, D.C. The 1.2 million travelers represent a 5.5 percent increase over last year. More than 1 million people are expected to travel by road, with another 87,500 by air and 65,000 by bus, train, or cruise ship.
Tuesday afternoon is likely to be the heaviest travel day. Some trips could quadruple in length. [See the chart below for estimated travel times on key roads.]
“Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will, hands down, be the worst time to be on the road,” Scott Sedlik, general manager and vice president for public sector with INRIX, which works with AAA on compiling traffic estimates. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”
Best Times for Bay Bridge Crossing
Rest assured that many of the 1.2 million travelers from this region will be heading to the beach, necessitating a crossing of the Bay Bridge. The Maryland Transportation Authority said there will be heavier-than-usual traffic between July 3 and July 8. It expects to have two-way traffic patterns to help move vehicles eastbound.
MDTA suggested traveling during off peak times. The best times to travel include:
- Tuesday – before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, 4th of July - before 9 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
- Thursday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
- Friday - before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
- Saturday – before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
- Sunday– before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
For real-time information on Bay Bridge traffic conditions, check out baybridge.com or call 1-877-BAYSPAN.
Work Zones Suspended
To help move traffic along, most jurisdictions have suspended road work and lane closures over the July 4 holiday, though work could resume before all travelers have returned to the region. The Virginia Department of Transportation said work will be suspended from noon on July 3 to noon on July 5.
HOV restrictions will be lifted on I-66 and I-395 on July 4.
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