Facing the Roads, Skies on Thanksgiving’s Busiest Travel Day

Didn’t skip town on Tuesday? You’re not alone

Didn’t skip town on Tuesday? You’re not alone -- Wednesday was expected to be the holiday week’s heaviest travel day, says the Maryland Transportation Authority.

More than 682,000 vehicles were expected to travel on I-95 between Tuesday and Sunday in Maryland, the authority said. On the Virginia side, more than 1.2 residents will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday, AAA forecast. (Got that E-ZPass?)

Things aren’t any less hectic for those flying Wednesday. Travelers at Reagan National Airport have been facing long lines to get through security.

At one security checkpoint, at least three dozen people waited in each of four lines. Waits just to get to screening were at least 15 to 20 minutes around 5 a.m., even with four and sometimes more TSA employees checking tickets.

Courtney Tucker, a graduate student at Howard University, was traveling to see her family in Atlanta. She said the airport seems busier than usual. For Christmas, Tucker said she plans to drive and avoid the "craziness" in the airports.

At Union Station Wednesday, the lines to board Amtrak trains heading to New York, Boston and other points along the Northeast Corridor sometimes stretched from one end of the platform to the other -- about 1,000 feet.

Many people said they arrived early to give themselves a better chance of a good seat.

Joanne Hawk of Woodbridge, Va., says her train to New London, Conn., was delayed because it was late arriving at the station. But she still prefers train travel to driving or flying, which she considers risky because of the potential for bad weather.

There have also been a few incidents on the roads.

In Maryland, all northbound lanes were blocked on I-270 after MD-109 (Old Hundred Road/Exit 22) due to an accident around mid-day Wednesday. Delays began approximately three miles before the accident scene.

In northern Virginia, some worried Greyhound riders called 911 early Wednesday about a man on the bus making threatening comments about hurting other passengers.

State police responded and evacuated the bus in the pre-dawn hours along I-95. Police say the man initially refused to leave the bus, but he was later taken into custody without any further incident.

Investigators searched the bus for any suspicious packages, but nothing was found. The bus was cleared by 6 a.m. David A. Servais, 23, of Millville, N.J., has been charged with threatening to bomb a mode of transportation and possession of synthetic cannabinoids, among other charges.

Earlier Wednesday, at least three people were taken to the hospital after a four-vehicle crash on I-70 near Hagerstown.

The eastbound lanes near the Route 65 exit were closed for about 90 minutes Wednesday morning, Lt. Tom Woodward told the Herald-Mail.

A driver who had slowed down because of heavy fog was hit from behind, causing a chain reaction of collisions shortly before 6 a.m.

The MDTA offered some tips to help drivers arrive safely:

  • Travel during off-peak hours to avoid significant delays. For the I-95 corridor, off-peak hours include:
                -- Tues.-Wed.: before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m.
                -- Thurs.-Sun.: before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
  • The Maryland House travel plaza is closed for renovation and is expected to reopen fall/winter 2013. The Chesapeake House remains open for fuel and food services.
  • If you still need an E-ZPass, you may be able to snag one at the last minute. Visit ezpassmd.com to see retail locations.
  • Devote your full attention to driving – it is illegal to text and use handheld cell phones while driving in Maryland.
  • If you have a breakdown, stay inside your vehicle and call #77 for help.
  • Move over when passing an emergency situation. If you are unable to move over, slow down. 
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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