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Advisories For the Holidays

Thanksgiving is easy. Christmas-New Year's is hard. At least in terms of predicting when the worst of the getaway traffic will occur.

I'll predict waves of badness from Friday evening through Saturday, without anything being as bad as a typical Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.

Same deal on the return from the long weekend. There will be some Monday night traffic and some Tuesday traffic. Nothing that's the equivalent of the big Sunday return after Thanksgiving. People have so much more flexibility at the end of December.

Lon Anderson of AAA-Mid-Atlantic gave some good advice for holiday travelers during a Live Online discussion today.

We have some travel advisories from the various transportation agencies.

-- In Virginia, short-term lane closures for construction and maintenance projects will be lifted from 6 a.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Wednesday and again from 6 a.m. Dec. 30 until 6 a.m. Jan. 3. Construction zones with concrete barriers and orange barrels will remain set up.

-- Wilson Bridge: There will be no lane closures from noon Friday until noon Wednesday. Construction also will shut down again at noon on Dec. 29 and will resume at noon on Jan. 2. Contractors are allowed to work behind barriers (except for Sunday, Christmas Day and New Year's Day) if they do not interfere with traffic.

-- Springfield Interchange: Work in the interstate lanes stops at 5 a.m. on Friday and resumes at noon on Tuesday. There will be no work from noon Dec. 29 until noon Jan. 2. Any changes to the work schedule will be posted on the project's Web site.

-- Richmond: On the I-295/I-64 flyover, VDOT says, you will encounter 11-foot wide travel lanes and concrete barriers along I-64 east between Route 288 (exit 174) and I-295 (exit 177). The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph in this work zone.

-- Outer Banks: Outer Banks: VDOT says motorists heading to the North Carolina Outer Banks may want to take I-664 and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel to avoid I-64/Battlefield Boulevard construction in Chesapeake.

HOV Rules
In response to a question in Monday's Live Online discussion about what the HOV rules will be during the holiday period, here's the story in Virginia:

Restrictions will be lifted on all interstate HOV lanes in Virginia on Christmas Day and again on New Year's Day. The Reversible Roadway on I-64 will be open to westbound traffic from 1 a.m. to 11 a.m., and to eastbound traffic from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on both days.

On all other weekdays next week, the normal HOV lane rules in Virginia will be in effect.

On Route 50 in Maryland, you have to obey the HOV lane rules 24 hours a day. The I-270 HOV restrictions are lifted on Christmas Day and New Year's Day only.

From MARC:
Tomorrow, schedules on the Brunswick Line will be adjusted to allow West Virginia riders an early departure. Train 877, the 4:55 p.m. departure to Martinsburg, will not operate. However, a holiday extra will depart at 2:40 p.m. for Martinsburg. The train will stop at Silver Spring at 2:54 p.m. and Rockville at 3:06 p.m. The train will then make stops at Point of Rocks, Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, Duffields and Martinsburg. All other trains will operate as scheduled including the 5:35 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. departures to Martinsburg.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 21, 2006; 6:32 AM ET
Categories:  holiday travel  
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Next: Last-Minute Advice on Getaway


I had asked about the HOV restrictions on Monday and wanted to thank you for looking into this. I just wish they would like HOV all week like they had the last couple of years on I-95. Any suggestions now on how to get up to Ft. Dupont!!! I figure I'm going to have to Wilson Bridge it or go up I-395 since I can't cut across on I-66. Which would be better, Wilson Bridge up I-295 or up I-395? I haven't been over the new bridge yet!

Posted by: | December 21, 2006 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Something else for people to remember: PARKING RESTRICTIONS are in effect Tuesday through Friday of next week in the normal way. Every year I see tourists and people who have taken off from working getting tons of tickets because they forget that those days after Christmas are not holidays. (The day after Thanksgiving is perhaps the biggest ticket bonanza for DC in this respect. That day is not a holiday either.) The best way to look at it--is the government closed that day? If not, assume that the normal traffic and parking laws apply!

Posted by: Rich | December 21, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What time are you heading to Ft. Dupont? If you're worried about I-66 HOV, I assume it's during the morning rush, since you'd be legal heading solo eastbound during the afternoon rush. The Wilson Bridge is normally "OK" during the morning rush on the outer loop... at least when compared to the inner loop. However, 295-N can suck big time in the morning up to the 11th Street Bridge. Since you're traveling there between the holidays, it probably won't be too horrendous. I usually avoid 395 like the plague during rush hour.

Getting on to Pennsylvania Ave is always easier from 295. The off ramps never back up and you don't have to worry about the Sousa Bridge backups, which can get pretty bad at times.

Posted by: GhettoBurbs | December 21, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the help, I will be heading up there in the morning, just late enough for HOV to be in effect however if the schedule stays the same.

In the past, coming from Woodbridge, I'd just go straight up I-395 to Penn. Ave and Sousa unless there was a traffic report telling of traffic on I-395 but was worrisome of how the new bridge configuration was working. I will find out tonight exactly the time the first games start each day but know that they'll definately be after 7 a.m.

Posted by: | December 22, 2006 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me for releasing my inner Grinch, but I want to thank some people for my 92 minute commute at 2:30 pm on Friday from McLean to Capitol Hill:

Thanks to the NIMBYs who refuse to understand that we need bigger highways to promote regional traffic improvements. Special thanks go to the DC NIMBYs who believe freeways that just end don't really hamper traffic.

Thanks to the DOTs who spend millions on a traffic study to find out "wow - traffic's really bad", but don't fix it.

Thanks to the Park Service for thinking that people use the GW Parkway as a retreat, not a major commuter artery, and keep it from being upgraded.

Thanks to the tightwads who refuse to build more Metro lines through the city because we shouldn't "waste" that much money.

And finally, thanks to all of the fans of the Wicked Witch of the West -- those people who become paralyzed when three drops of water fall from the sky -- as rain makes people ride their brakes, max out at 20 mph, and keep their lights off.

Happy Holidays.

Posted by: McLean to Capitol Hill | December 23, 2006 6:12 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: tawnftda | December 27, 2006 7:16 PM | Report abuse

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