Traveling light: Homebound traffic mostly easy as holiday weekend ends

QUANTICO, VA - MAY 22: Heavy Memorial Day traffic moves southbound along I-95 May 22, 2015 in Quantico, Virginia. The American Automobile Association estimates that 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or futher during the Memorial Day weekend, a nearly 5% increase over last yearÕs figure. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)(Getty Images/Win McNamee)
While the end of the Memorial Day holiday weekend was forecast to cause traffic headaches in the D.C. area, the roadways weren’t doing too badly as of Monday evening — with one major exception.

At the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, or any holiday weekend, people head to wherever they’re going at various times. But everyone comes back at the same time, and that’s been known to cause some serious slowdowns.

But most of the roads in the area that cause the most problems haven’t been showing the jams they usually do, said Jerry Booth in the WTOP Traffic Center.

Traffic built up on Interstate 95 in the traditional spots — between Fredericksburg and Quantico northbound, and around the Occuquan southbound. But the traffic hasn’t been so bad — better than an average summer Sunday, Booth said. And the Beltway isn’t looking too bad either.

That leaves U.S. 50, the road back to the D.C. area from the Bay Bridge and the Eastern Shore. And that’s living down to its reputation.

The problems started early, said WTOP’s Dave Dildine — it was about 11:15 a.m. Monday when the slowdowns started on westbound U.S. 50. And it continued through the midday — by midafternoon, Booth said, delays began before Wye Mills and Queenstown, heading across the Chesapeake Bay.

That said, it could be worse. There have been no incidents on U.S. 50 — no crashes and not even a broken-down vehicle.

Still, “For the rest of the daylight hours, long volume delays will be a factor for travelers,” Dildine said.

It’s still possible to to outwait the traffic on U.S. 50, Dildine said, but to pull that off, “you have to really mean it.” Traffic on that road on Memorial Day has been known to last until well after sundown, he said — so “you’re going to have to wait until 11 or midnight.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic has predicted that the U.S. 50 trip will be the king of congestion, with the 31.56-mile journey projected to take 2 hours and 20 minutes. That’s up from the usual 34 minutes, with an average speed of 13.6 mph, according to the data from INRIX and AAA.

That I-95 trip wasn’t expected to be a picnic either — AAA and INRIX expected a 72 percent increase in travel time Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, inside the Beltway, traffic was lighter than usual, even around the Memorial Day Parade route.

Stick with WTOP for the latest, both on-air and on our traffic page.

In the parks

Dildine added that if you’re looking for a day trip, you’re not going to be immune from traffic either: The crowds at Great Falls are heavy as of midday, and the Maryland State Police tweeted at 11:15 a.m. that Sandy Point State Park was full — no more cars would be let in.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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