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How to survive getaway day

* Driving tips for Thanksgiving Day *

Here's your basic survival kit of information for today:

Construction zones
The Maryland State Highway Administration plans no short-term lane closings until Monday. But the Virginia Department of Transportation doesn't suspend temporary lane closings until noon today. Once they're done, work won't resume till noon Monday. The longer-term construction barriers, lane narrowings and lane shifts, such as those in place for the Beltway HOT lanes and the Intercounty Connector projects, remain where they are.

Times to avoid
Generally, the peak of the peak -- the getaway time you'd most like to avoid, if possible -- is noon to 8 p.m. today. Traffic will build as students get home from school and adults get off work. Ed O'Keefe says in his Federal Eye blog that some feds will get to take an early dismissal today, starting the holiday early.

It's futile to start your Thanksgiving trip during the afternoon and evening rush. Have a meal, take a nap, get up and go when the traffic has calmed.

Virginia bottlenecks
-- I-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

Virginia HOV lanes
The I-95/395 carpool lanes will run southbound from noon until 11 p.m. today. The lanes will run northbound from 1 a.m. Thanksgiving Day until 11 a.m. Friday. They will run southbound from 1 p.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday. They will re-open to northbound traffic at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Maryland bottlenecks
-- I-70 through Frederick heading toward Western Maryland
-- I-68 through Cumberland
-- I-95 across the Wilson Bridge
-- I-95 north of Baltimore
-- I-695 through Towson, Pikesville, Parkville and Catonsville
-- I-83 North toward Pennsylvania
-- Any roads parallel to I-95 between White Marsh and the Delaware line including Routes 1, 7 and 40
-- All of I-495 in Montgomery County

For current information on long-range trips:
-- For Virginia, look at www.511virginia.org.
-- For Maryland, look at www.chart.state.md.us
-- For regional traffic conditions, look at our Traffic page or at TrafficLand.com, which has more traffic cameras.
-- Our Capital Weather Gang will keep you up to date on the forecast.
-- 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 nationwide.
-- The I-95 Corridor Coalition has developed a site containing current traffic information and estimated drive times for major roadways along the East Coast: www.i95travelinfo.net

Parting advice
Be patient. You're about to participate in the busiest set of travel days we have in this country. Come back safe.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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