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Avoiding Unexpected Holiday Traffic Snarls

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Most dwellers of our larger metro areas are used to dealing with traffic congestion during morning and afternoon “drive time” and have learned to accomodate it one way or another. But one of the many frustrations of the holiday season — where we suddenly find ourselves this week at the starting gate of Thanksgiving — is that congestion arises at unexpected times and places due to new traffic patterns centered around shopping areas and longer distance travel routes.

While the congestion in many cases can’t be avoided, the “unexpected” part can be if one is basking under the heat lamp of knowledge. Toward that goal, then, here are the ten worst predictable traffic snarls during the holiday season, as provided by Metro Networks.

New York City — The Throgs Neck Bridge and Whitestone Bridge, both of which connect the Bronx and Queens. The two heavily traveled bridges are key choke points along the main artery connecting upstate New York, Connecticut and Long Island.

Los Angeles — Northbound Interstate 5 from Van Nuys through Castaic and Southbound through Orange County. Northbound gets highly congested with holiday travelers heading to San Francisco, Fresno, and other Northern California cities, while southbound attracts those travelers heading towards San Diego and Tijuana.

Chicago — The combination of the Borman Expressway I-80/94 and the Tri-State Tollway is the most heavily traveled stretch of interstate in the Wisconsin-Illinois-Indiana Tri-State area. To add to the congestion, the Tollway is currently under construction.

Philadelphia — Northbound Interstate 476 from the NB Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (PATP) from the Mid-County tolls up to Lansdale. This stretch of roadway can back up more than 12 miles as a result of motorists heading up to the Pocono Mountains for the holidays.

San Francisco — Eastbound Interstate 80 through Sacramento to Tahoe. San Franciscans seeking “holiday weather” heavily travel this route to the nearby ski resorts and mountains.

Boston — Westbound Massachusetts Turnpike from downtown Boston to Interstate 84 in Sturbridge. This a 56-mile stretch that on the day before Thanksgiving has been known to completely back-up due to Interstate 84 serving as the main route south connecting Boston with the rest of the Eastern Seaboard.

Dallas — Highway 121 between the Dallas North Tollway and Preston Road in Frisco. This is primarily due to the 3+ million square feet of retail space located in the area attracting a myriad of holiday shoppers.

Washington DC — Southbound Interstate 95 from Springfield, MD through Fredericksburg, VA. This 30-mile stretch south of Washington DC experiences extensive delays on a regular basis, which are only amplified during the holiday season.

Atlanta — Interstate 285 (Perimeter Highway) in both directions between I-75 and I-85. This is a main route for shoppers heading to area malls creating massive congestion during the holiday season.

Detroit — Northbound US 23/Interstate 75 Merge. At Thanksgiving time, this merge experiences extreme congestion due to hunters heading north for the opening of Firearm Deer Season.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Nancy

    Springfield, MD? I’ve missed something, here. I was always under the impression that Springfield & its infamous Mixing Bowl was in Virginia. Whatever, 95 in MD is almost as bad, as is 270, and The Beltway in either state is unspeakable every hour of every day of the week, holidays or no.