Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway (Reposted)
Since a lot of posts have appeared on this blog since Bob Thomson posted these tips yesterday -- and since a lot of you planning on heading out of town might be leaving tomorrow -- we're reposting Dr. Gridlock's travel tips below.
ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS:
Escaping the Washington area for the July 4 holiday should be nothing like the anxiety-provoking experience of leaving town for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's summer now, and many people who want to get away already have gone. Still, there are some things to consider in making plans.
The transportation departments suspend almost all construction work around the holidays, so orange cones should not be a problem along your trips.
You should have no problems with the HOT lanes or the I-95 widening project in Virignia or the Arena Drive interchange project on the Beltway in Prince George's. But there are a couple of projects to know about if they're on your getaway route.
Chain Bridge: One of the three lanes is blocked off until January for a rehab project.
Route 50: Drivers will have to detour around a roundabout construction project near the junction with Route 15 in eastern Loudoun County.
Bay Bridge: The rehabilitation on the eastbound span is among the projects suspended for the holiday weekend. But the Eastern Shore is so popular in the summer and there are so few routes that you should consider timing your trip to the early morning or nighttime hours. The Maryland Transportation Authority says it expects more than 351,000 vehicles will travel the Bay Bridge from Thursday through Sunday, about the same as last year.
These are the best bets on travel times: Thursday before 3 p.m. and after 10 p.m., Friday before noon and after 10 p.m., Saturday before 7 a.m. and between 5 and 10 p.m., Sunday between 7 and 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
Drivers can check baybridge.com for traffic updates and live camera views, or call 877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) for a recorded announcement about traffic conditions. Some tolls went up. The toll rate for vehicles
with three axles is $9. Rates for two-axle vehicles have not changed.
Delaware: It can ruin any holiday. The state's portion of Interstate 95 is minuscule, but drivers just hate it, particularly the toll plaza at Newark, which collects in both directions and does not have highway-speed E-ZPass lanes. Use this link to get live traffic information. (I-95 in Delaware is New Castle County.) And when you get near Delaware, tune to the traffic alert radio, which is WTMC 1380 AM. (And keep your chin up: Delaware is going to use federal stimulus money to build those highway-speed E-ZPass lanes.)
Shortcuts: Veteran travelers always tell me that there are no undiscovered shortcuts, that the time of departure (very early/very late) is almost always the most important consideration in minimizing delays during holiday travel.
But for those who want to consider route options, here's one of our Commuter pages on the topic.
Here's some information about summer getaway routes to the Eastern Shore, the Blue Ridge and Deep Creek Lake.
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.
-- The Federal Highway Administration also has a page of Traffic and Road Closure information nawtionwide.
July 2, 2009; 7:30 PM ET
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