WASHINGTON – It’s not just you — holiday travel is getting worse. For the fifth year in a row, the number of drivers leaving the Washington area for the holiday is increasing, AAA says.
In all, 2.35 million of us will hit the roads, and the worst days to travel are between Friday afternoon and Sunday, says WTOP traffic director Jim Battagliese. The best options, Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re already seeing a lot of out-of-state license plates on 95. So if you can avoid 95, I’d say do it at any cost,” he says.
The combination of holiday shopping and rush hour does not help ease the Friday-afternoon travel equation.
If you’re traveling north, there are some alternate routes to try if the highway is backed up.
“Route 301 over the Harry Nice Memorial Bridge cutting up through Maryland, that’s not a bad idea to try sometime. Route 1 in Pennsylvania is a great way; it’s a highway no one uses,” Battagliese says.
Choose to leave during off hours and off days, and have other routes in mind to make your trip faster, he says.
“In New Jersey, nobody uses Interstate 295, which parallels the Jersey Turnpike. As soon as you go across the Delaware Memorial Bridge, take the I-295 cutoff. It’s free and nobody uses it,” Battagliese says.
If you’re traveling south, try Route 29, which will allow you to cut back to 95 near Richmond, Battagliese says.
The weather will not be as much of an issue leaving the Washington area in the early part of the weekend, but it could affect the return trip, says ABC7 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts. For more information on the forecast for your trip, check out her holiday travel weather blog.
Try to avoid heading home on Jan. 1 or 2, when most people will be traveling, Battagliese says.