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It's Getaway Day

5:40 p.m. Update: We've still got heavy traffic on the Interstates and 295, but it's only moderately bad. An early start to the rush around noon today, really good weather and a relatively small number of accidents have really helped keep the jams under control in the late afternoon and early evening. The first time we're likely to see bad driving weather around here is later in the day on Sunday.

5:20 p.m. Update: Looking way up the road to I-95 in Delaware, traffic is very heavy, especially northbound, heading toward the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (This is a stretch of highway that my long-distance travelers just hate.) If you want to keep an eye on the Delaware situation, use this link.

5:15 p.m. Update: The worst spot I can find on the region's traffic cameras is the outer loop heading toward the Wilson Bridge, but that's hardly a surprise. The bridge itself is in pretty good shape, after the lane squeeze around Telegraph Road.

5 p.m. Update: The worst traffic appears to be on the around the Beltway and out I-66. Many stretches of highway are in pretty good shape -- no worse than a normal rush hour -- but don't become euphoric. The slowdowns around the interchanges can come upon you pretty quickly.

2:20 p.m. Update: At Reagan National Airport, parking spots are still open in all the garages and in the economy lot, but the number of open spots is shrinking. This page has the latest counts.

1:30 p.m. Update: We're entering the red zone for the Thanksgiving getaway traffic congestion. Bob Marbourg just noted on WTOP that it could be a turkey of a rush hour. Traffic is still moving, but it's building up.

I just drove from Alexandria to Silver Spring via the Wilson Bridge, 295 and the Beltway. The work zone for a final concrete pour at the Beltway's Route 1 interchange in Virginia had backed up outer loop traffic this morning, but it's gone now, as are work zones all across the region. Highway volumes have built to the point that lane merges and interchanges are becoming very sluggish for traffic.

The northern arc of the inner loop is very slow, about what you'd expect at about 4 p.m. on a regular weekday.

Fairfax County Parkway was closed in both directions between Hooes Road to the south and Modesto Road to the north because of an accident involving a tanker truck. The delays were expected to last till mid-afternoon.

In the District, some traffic signals around Logan Circle have gone dark. Watch for temporary stop signs and traffic control officers. (And if you come to a dark signal at an intersection and there's no officer or stop sign, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.)

I'll update the blog this afternoon with more reports on current traffic conditions. Share your traffic tales here.

The experts on our region's highways urge you to avoid, if possible, the peak travel times of noon to 8 p.m. today.

Expect heavy congestion at these places in Virginia:
-- Interstate 95 between Richmond and the Springfield Interchange
-- I-66 eastbound and westbound in Northern Virginia
-- I-81/I-77 interchange near Wytheville
-- I-81 near Lexington to south of Roanoke
-- I-64/I-95 in the Richmond area

To avoid traffic at the toll plazas in Maryland, here's when the Maryland Transportation Authority suggests traveling:
-- Today, before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
-- Thanksgiving through Sunday, before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

The construction of the higher-speed toll lanes at the Fort McHenry Tunnel Toll Plaza has closed the two left toll lanes in each direction. Motorists should anticipate delays and consider using I-895 or I-695, the transportation authority says.

At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge:
-- From 9 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday and from 11 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday, the eastbound span will be closed for maintenance. Two-way traffic will operate on the westbound span.
-- At all times, slow down for the steel plates on the Bay Bridge's westbound span. The posted speed limit for the westbound span is 45 mph because of the deck replacement project.

Other Maryland Routes
David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, named these spots along the highways maintained by SHA that we should expect to be congested between noon and 8 p.m. today:

-- I-70 through Frederick heading toward Western Maryland
-- I-68 through Cumberland
-- I-95 across the Wilson Bridge
-- Any roads parallel to I-95 between White Marsh and the Delaware line including US 1, MD 7 and US 40
-- All of I-495 in Montgomery County

Online sources of traffic information:
-- For Virginia, look at www.511virginia.org.
-- For Maryland, look at www.chart.state.md.us
-- For regional information, look at our Trafficpage.
-- This is The Weather Channel's page for forecasts along the Interstates.
-- Here's the I-95 Travelers Alert page listing construction projects from Florida to Maine.
-- The Federal Highway Administration also has a page of Traffic and Road Closure information nawtionwide.

MTA Commuter Buses
Many of the Maryland buses will be on different schedules this afternoon in anticipation of riders wanting to leave Washington early for the holiday. Check this previous blog posting for details.

More Traffic Cams | Alternative Holiday Routes | Getaway Weather

By Robert Thomson  |  November 26, 2008; 6:02 AM ET
Categories:  Getaway  
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Next: Thanksgiving Crush: Clean Getaway or a Traffic Mess?

Comments

I use rush hour bus lines for my commute to Foggy Bottom. Why doesn't Metro adjust the schedules when various government agencies announce early dismissal? This happens whether it's weather or holidays. Since it's easily anticipated, can't Metro schedule buses to begin the afternoon runs an hour or two earlier?

Posted by: busgirl1 | November 26, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

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