Best Times To Cross Bay Bridge, Take I-95 Tunnel Around Thanksgiving
Patch Regional Manager Deb Belt wrote this story.
MARYLAND — Traffic can move at a snail's pace on holidays as Marylanders head to the Eastern shore or battle the I-95 traffic and the Fort McHenry Tunnel. If you want to avoid traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge around the Thanksgiving holiday, it's best to drive early and head home late at night.
The Maryland Transportation Authority warned drivers to travel off-hours so they aren't caught in the traffic. And we have reminders on how to pay the state's tolls if you're not a regular user with an E-ZPass.
Best Times To Cross Bay Bridge
The Maryland Transportation Authority suggests travel times for its major routes during the holiday period.
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.
HOW TO PAY TOLLS IN MARYLAND
Tolls in Maryland are collected through E-ZPass, Pay-By-Plate, and Video Tolling. E-ZPass is the most cost-effective, saving drivers up to 77% versus the higher rates and saving additional paperwork that comes with Video Tolls.
With Pay-By-Plate, tolls are automatically billed to the driver’s registered credit card as they use Maryland toll facilities, with no need for a transponder or pre-paid deposit. Pay-By-Plate rates are the same as former cash rates. Learn more and enroll in E-ZPass or sign up for Pay-By-Plate at https://www.driveezmd.com/acct-types/.
If using a rental vehicle over the holiday, you can add vehicle information temporarily to an E-ZPass or Pay-By-Plate account. Otherwise, be sure to inquire with the rental car company before traveling a route that includes a toll facility. DriveEzMD Customer Service Centers will be closed on Thanksgiving. Visit DriveEzMD.com or use the automated system at 1-888-321-6824 for 24/7 account maintenance or to make payments.
DRIVER SAFETY REMINDERS
No matter where you travel for the holiday, please remember these safety tips on the road:
- Allow for extra time to get to your destination.
- Obey speed limits. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of a crash.
- To assist in minimizing distractions while driving, you should always set up your GPS before you start your trip when needing directions. Driving while distracted is extremely dangerous for you, your passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
- Maryland’s Move Over law includes all stopped vehicles displaying any type of caution signals or warning lights when approaching from the rear. Slow down if you cannot safely move over into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the stopped vehicle.
- Make sure your vehicle is road-ready. If your vehicle breaks down, exit the roadway. If that isn’t possible, remain inside your vehicle and call #77 for assistance.
- Obey overhead lane-use control signals in travel lanes before, during, and after the bridge or tunnel, wherever lane signals are present.
- RED X: Means the lane is closed. You MUST NOT enter or travel in any lane where a RED X signal is shown.
- YELLOW X: Prepare to vacate the lane beneath the YELLOW X signal and move to a lane with a DOWNWARD GREEN ARROW.
- DOWNWARD GREEN ARROW: Motorists can drive in the lane beneath the GREEN ARROW signal.
The MDTA Police remind drivers that it is never permissible to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs — whether they are illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications — which can endanger everyone on the road.
During the holidays, law enforcement officers will target dangerous driving, seat belt violations, and criminal activity. To report aggressive or dangerous driving on Maryland toll roads, call MDTA Police Dispatch at 410-537-7911.
For real-time updates on major incidents on Maryland toll roads, follow the agency on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA. For 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic information, call 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or visit Baybridge.com.
AAA Thanksgiving Traffic Predictions For Maryland
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.
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
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