If you decided to hop in your car and try to head out of town in the days before Thanksgiving, you’ve joined more than 1.2 million metropolitan Washington residents who are doing the same thing.
Wednesday is D-Day for commuters, featuring an especially terrible commute for motorists traveling north on I-95 or I-270, or east on US-50.
Welcome to the Party
“With 1.2 million Washington area residents hitting the highways for the holiday, travel delays will become a contagion on area freeways and highways on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving Eve, as virtually everyone experiences a significant increase in travel times and traffic congestion,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.
Commuters and holiday travelers will experience a 164 percent increase in travel delays along I-270 North early Wednesday afternoon, beginning as early as 2:15 p.m. Speeds will decrease to 25 mph on I-270 in Maryland from the Capital Beltway (I-495) to I-70, according to projects by traffic data firm INRIX, in collaboration with AAA.
Drivers heading east on US-50 will experience an 87 percent increase in travel delays, as highway speeds decrease to 31 mph. More than 465,000 vehicles will cross the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge (US 50/301) in both directions during the busy Thanksgiving holiday period, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.
95 Express Lanes
Transurban will change reversal times of the 95 Express Lanes due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:
- Wednesday, Nov. 21: Southbound opens around noon. (one hour earlier than normal)
- Thursday, Nov. 22: Northbound opens around 2 a.m. and remains all day.
Toll prices may be higher than normal during busy travel times. If you’re using I-95 South on Wednesday, Transurban suggests you depart before 1:30 p.m. or after 5:30 p.m.
Metro Holiday Operating Schedule
Meanwhile, Metrorail will run a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving, opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, and parking will be free at Metro-operated facilities. There is no scheduled track work.
Metrobus: Bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day. Customers should check bus timetables for details.
MetroAccess: Service will operate on a regular schedule. However, subscription trips will be canceled. Customers with subscription trips wishing to travel on Monday should call 301-562-5360 option 2, or use the online booking site to make or change a reservation.
Metrorail and Metrobus will operate on a regular weekday schedule with normal fare and parking rates in effect.
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24 -25
Metrorail will operate normal weekend service on the Green Line. Customers should be aware of service adjustments on the Red Line with trains operating every 10-20 minutes; and on the Orange, Silver, Blue and Yellow Lines every 24 minutes.
- MARC: The Camden or Brunswick Lines will not be in service on Black Friday, while the Penn Line will operate on an “R” schedule.
- VRE: The VRE will not operate on Thanksgiving, but will run an “S” schedule on Black Friday.
- Amtrak: The Northeast Corridor line implemented its Thanksgiving Holiday System Timetable beginning Tuesday through next Monday, Nov. 26. Predictably, the heaviest travel days will be Wednesday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 25. The least crowded travel day on trains and in stations is likely to be Friday, Nov. 23, according to Amtrak.
Alexandria DASH and King Street Trolley
- DASH will not operate on Thanksgiving, but will run on a regular weekday schedule on Black Friday.
- King Street Trolley will continue to operate daily, every 10-15 minutes, between the King Street Metro Station and the waterfront, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The trolley will close at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday and midnight on Thursday through Saturday.