If you’re hoping for some carefree travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, your dreams may have bitten off more than they can chew.
The American Automobile Association is predicting 55.4 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this week, with 49.1 million of those people hitting the roads between Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Sunday, Nov. 26.
How will AAA’s prediction impact travel on the roads and highways across the Bay State? Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt detailed the best and worst times to drive, and where the heaviest traffic will likely be.
Tuesday is expected to be the “worst travel day” of the week, according to MassDOT. Major delays are expected between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., light travel between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and more major delays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. All of the main highways across the region are also expected to be heavily congested.
Nov. 20: “Monday will see heavier traffic during typical rush hour periods,” Tibbits-Nutt said. “Travel during the midday and late evening should be much clearer.”
Nov. 21: “Tuesday will be the busiest travel day before the holiday on the roads,” Tibbits-Nutt said. “We would not be surprised to see major congestion on I-93, I-95, and especially the Massachusetts Turnpike at any point during the day.”
Nov. 22: “Driving on Wednesday will be much better but we will still forecast delays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” Tibbits-Nutt said.
Nov. 23, Thanksgiving: No foreseen traffic problems
Nov. 24/25: “We will see delays after the holiday as well,” Tibbits-Nutt said. “This will include late morning into early afternoon on Friday and much of the middle of the day on Saturday.”
Nov. 26: “On Sunday we expect there to be major, major delays, the majority of the day, starting as early as 10 a.m.,” Tibbits-Nutt said.
Massachusetts State Police Major Timothy Curtin urged drivers to pack their patience if they do plan on hitting the road, especially with a coastal storm expected to slow things down leading into the holiday.
“We ask for your patience during this time,” Curtin said. “We are asking the public to drive safely. Plan ahead. Plan for traffic.” “We will have additional patrols out over the holiday.”
Ahead of last year’s holiday, AAA warned of the heaviest traffic in the following areas:
I-93 South: Traffic is expected to be 76 percent higher than on a non-holiday weekday between Exit 20 (I-90/Mass Pike junction) and Exit 4 (Route 24 junction)
I-93 North: Traffic is expected to be 53 percent higher between Exit 17 (Government Center) and Exit 25 (Route 28 junction).
I-95 South: Traffic is expected to be 30 percent higher between Exit 36 (Route 9) and Exit 21 (Coney Street)
I-90 West: Traffic is expected to be 26 percent higher between Exit 131 (Brighton, Cambridge) to Exit 95 (Route 122 Junction)
Route 3 North: Traffic is expected to be 19 percent higher between Exit 36 (Derby St.) and Exit 20 (I-93)
The good news for drivers heading out on local roads and highways? Gas prices are down ahead of this year’s holiday. The current average price for a gallon of gas in the Bay State is sitting at $3.42, down from $3.81 in 2022, according to AAA.
MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng reminded Thanksgiving travelers that there will be additional service at the ready to accommodate those who don’t want to navigate traffic headaches.
Travelers heading to Logan Airport are also being asked to utilize the T because parking will be “very limited,” Massport Acting CEO Ed Freni said.
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