‘Ungodly’ traffic delays expected this week

Typical scene during rush hour. A traffic jam with rows of cars. Shallow depth of field.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Rafal Olkis)

WASHINGTON — If you’re planning to drive somewhere for the Fourth of July, be ready to sit and stare at brake lights.

About 1.2 million people from the D.C. metro area — 19 percent of the region’s population — are expected to travel at least 50 miles for the holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“That’s a 5.5 percent increase over last Fourth of July,” said AAA spokesman John Townsend.

With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday this year, many people plan to take a six-day holiday weekend, causing major congestion and delays Monday and Tuesday.

Travel times on the Capital Beltway Monday, starting at 11:30 a.m., are expected to be about four times longer than what they normally are, meaning a trip that would typically take 10 minutes would instead take 51 minutes — a 41 minute delay.

“Then on Tuesday, on virtually every single road, you’re going to see ungodly and unworldly traffic delays,” Townsend said. “Every roadway, every exit ramp and every entry ramp will be filled to the gills.”

The worst traffic is expected Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., as people getting out of town merge with the normal afternoon rush hour crowd.

“Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will, hands down, be the worst time to be on the road,” said Scott Sedlik, general manager with the transportation analytics company INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Some of the most congested areas are expected to be U.S. Route 50 eastbound, Interstate 270 northbound, the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95.

Nationally, AAA expects nearly 47 million people to travel — a 5.3 percent increase from last year, despite higher gas prices. Gas is about 60 cents more expensive when compared to one year ago.

If and when you do wind up hitting the road, you can visit our traffic page for the latest updates and listen to live traffic reports every 10 minutes on 103.5 FM or via our online stream.

You can see a map of the latest traffic conditions below.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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