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Heavy traffic heading to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Heavy traffic heading to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Ken Lund, Flickr

Your Memorial Day Travel Guide

Updated: 5/24 10:19 a.m.

Memorial Day weekend is approaching, and that means millions of additional cars on the road in the coming days.

The long weekend could be one of the heaviest travel days in 12 years, with 42 million people expected to travel more than 50 miles from home. The American Automobile Association said 1.05 million people in the Washington area will travel more than 50 miles this year. That’s the largest total since AAA began tracking these things. Nearly 939,000 will travel by car.

We will start to see people escaping for the holiday as soon as Wednesday, which means holiday travelers will be mixing with normal commuters and creating a multiplier effect. AAA said the heaviest travel day in this area will be on Thursday, with peak travel between 4:30 and 7 p.m., when traffic is predicted to be 2.3 times heavier than normal.

The adjacent chart from AAA and INRIX offers projections for travel times on the major roadways this weekend.

Bay Bridge Advice

The Bay Bridge will be one of the most heavily traveled spots, and the Maryland Transportation Authority is offering tips on the best times to cross to avoid delays.

  • Thursday and Friday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Saturday – before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Sunday and Monday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

Drivers can get updated traffic information about the Bay Bridge by calling 1-888-BAY-SPAN or checking baybridge.com.

Express Lane Restrictions Lifted on May 28

The Virginia Department of Transportation said it will lift HOV restrictions on I-66 and I-395 on Memorial Day. I-66 rush hour tolls inside the Beltway will also be lifted. Here’s the schedule for the I-95 reversible toll lanes.

Metro Schedule

On Memorial Day, the rail system will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11:00 p.m. Trains will operate on a Sunday schedule. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, and parking will be free. Also be aware of service changes on several lines all weekend.

Rolling Thunder Run

Here’s our rundown of the big Rolling Thunder Run demonstration that will take place Sunday. Expect thousands of motorcyclists to fill the roads between the Pentagon and the National Mall.

Minimal Lane Closures

Most roadwork will be suspended during the Memorial Day weekend. VDOT said it will suspend most highway work zones and lifting most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon Friday, May 25 until noon Tuesday, May 29. But there still could be some lane closures and other things to be aware of. Here’s a list of possible delay points along I-95.

Hot Locations

Travelers will be heading in all directions for the long weekend, but there are some usual popular destinations. Here’s a look at the best routes to get there:

  • Maryland’s Eastern Shore/Delaware Beaches - If heading east, your best bet is to cross the Bay Bridge and follow Route 50 to the Ocean City area. As you approach Ocean City, you may choose to hop on Route 90 or Route 113. Depending on your destination, you can also take Route 404 to Route 113 which may have less traffic as you head to the coast. To avoid the Bay Bridge, head north on I-95 almost to Wilmington, Delaware, and then take Route 1 south.
  • The Jersey Shore - This will depend on which beach you go to, but you’ll likely need to take I-95 to I-295 (Delaware Memorial Bridge) and then head east once you reach the Philadelphia area via the Atlantic City Expressway or Route 70. For more southern Jersey beaches such as Wildwood, take Route 40 east to Route 55.
  • North Carolina Outer Banks - The Virginia Department of Transportation advises drivers to take I-664 south to I-64 west to Exit 292. Then keep left to continue onto the Chesapeake Expressway (Route 168) and then take exit 291B (Nags Head/Great Bridge) to the outer banks.

DC Commute Times will update this story as we receive additional tips and information from the region’s transportation agencies.

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