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Data shows heaviest congestion in 2015 on I-695 North on Tuesday, I-95 North on Wednesday

Thousands of Marylanders will travel short and long distances to share the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. The Baltimore region, which connects residents and travelers to major highways, such as I-70, I-83 and I-95, is no exception.

Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to increase from 2015 by 3 percent in Maryland, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s 31,000 more Marylanders on the road from Wednesday, November 23, through Sunday, November 27.

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC)’s congestion management process analyzes where and when traffic in the Baltimore region tends to pile up, and for how long it will stay congested. BMC does this by looking at various probe data sources compiled by the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab.)

This information is helpful in day-to-day transportation planning, but also can be used to see how travelers moved in and around the Baltimore region on Thanksgiving in 2015. The intent is to provide a visual of 2015’s congestion, so that travelers can plan better for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.

So when is the best time to depart for Thanksgiving destinations to avoid traffic congestion and delays?  Let’s take a look!

The following animated maps show speeds on the major highways of the Baltimore Region on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2015. Press play to see a 24-hour time lapse animation of both days side-by-side. Pan around and zoom in or out to take a look at conditions on what the route to Thanksgiving dinner may look like this year.

For example, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically considered the busiest travel day of the year. But in 2015, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving proved equally congested. The following also shows a ranking of the worst bottlenecks in the Baltimore region on those dates:

Congestion on Tuesday is heaviest on I-695 North, between I-95 and I-70. On Wednesday, I-95 North had the worst congestion. To combat that congestion, which suggests that travelers were leaving the Baltimore region, BMC staffers recommend taking alternative routes.

In addition, our partners at the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) offer these travel tips for the Thanksgiving Day holiday:

•    Travel during off peak hours to avoid significant delay. The best times to travel the I-95 corridor this week include:
•    Tuesday and Wednesday before 6am and after 11pm.
•    Thursday through Saturday – before 9am and after 9pm

*All graphics and animations generated in cooperation the I-95 Corridor Coalition, Vehicle Probe Project and the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (CATT) Lab.  Vehicle probe data provided by INRIX.

Top 10 Bottleneck Locations from Thanksgiving Week 2015

Rank Tuesday Miles Wednesday Miles
1 I-695 OL @ I-70/EXIT 16 11.62 I-95 N @ MD-24/EXIT 77 8.56
2 I-695 OL @ US-40/EXIT 15 13.75 I-95 N @ MD-100/EXIT 43 9.58
3 I-95 N @ MD-100/EXIT 43 9.74 I-695 IL @ I-83/MD-25/EXIT 23 4.64
4 I-695 IL @ MD-41/PERRING PKWY/EXIT 30 5.82 I-695 OL @ EDMONDSON AVE/EXIT 14 5.81
5 I-695 OL @ MD-144/FREDERICK RD/EXIT 13 8.74 I-895 N @ HARBOR TUNNEL THWY (NORTH) 1.41
6 I-695 OL @ EDMONDSON AVE/EXIT 14 7.31 I-95 S @ MD-43/WHITEMARSH BLVD/EXIT 67 14.92
7 MD-295 S @ MD-193 10.42 US-50 E @ SEVERN RIVER BRIDGE 3.3
8 MD-295 N @ MD-175 7.58 I-695 OL @ US-40/EXIT 15 4.57
9 I-695 IL @ I-70/EXIT 16 3.4 I-95 S @ MD-175/EXIT 41 4.73
10 I-95 N @ MD-175/EXIT 41 8.99 I-695 IL @ MD-41/PERRING PKWY/EXIT 30 3.13
  IL = Inner Loop / OL = Outer Loop      
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 15:41