Record traffic eyed for weekend’s holiday rush
It’s looking as if the long Fourth of July holiday weekend is going to be a record breaker on Maryland highways.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is anticipating that from Thursday, June 30 through Monday, July 4, there will be 773,000 Marylanders traveling 50 miles or more from home by car. That’s a 1.3 percent increase over the same holiday period last year and an all-time record for the Independence Day holiday.
The weekend is also shaping up as a very busy one at the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, where the Maryland Transportation Authority is anticipating “heavy traffic volumes” for the same period, according to an MdTA statement.
However, because the Fourth of July holiday does not fall on the same day of the week such as Thanksgiving or Memorial Day, the MdTA does not make any comparisons with the previous year.
Weather permitting, twoway traffic operations will be implemented to help alleviate delays on the bridge. To avoid congestion, the agency is recommending that motorists travel at offpeak periods: Thursday before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.; Friday and Sunday before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m.; Saturday before 6 a.m. and after 7 p.m.; and Monday before 9 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
Real-time updates on major incidents at the bridge can be gotten at twitter. com/TheMDTA. Travelers can also call 1-877-BAYSPAN for recorded bridge traffic conditions or log onto www.baybridge.com to view traffic cameras, MdTA said. Drivers are reminded that headlights are mandatory on the bridge.
Adding to the congestion in the county and on the Bay Bridge this weekend is the Bay Bridge Brawl, sponsored by Hogan Lax. Lacrosse tournaments will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, July 1, and Saturday, July 2, at fields from Kent Island to White Marsh Park north of Centreville.
AAA Mid-Atlantic said that not only does it expect record traffic in Maryland, it also expects record traffic nationwide where 36.3 million people are expected to travel by car — also a 1.3 percent increase over last Fourth of July. Travel by car represents 86.9 percent of all Marylanders who will be traveling, with air, bus, rail, and other methods handling the rest, the organization said.
“With schools now out of session, Fourth of July travel is expected to be even more robust than Memorial Day weekend, particularly since gas prices continue to remain at their lowest level in over a decade,” AAA MidAtlantic’s Ragina Cooper Averella said in a statement. “A more confident consumer, and rising economic activity are also offsetting a cool labor market to help boost holiday traffic.”
The most recent figures from the auto club show that the average price of gas in Maryland is $2.29 a gallon, while the national average is $2.32 a gallon. The lowest price for gasoline in the state, according to recent figures, is in Salisbury, where gas is averaging $2.11 a gallon, compared to last year when the price was $2.67.
Current gas prices are the lowest since 2005 and are expected to remain “relatively steady throughout the summer,” according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Information on gas prices is available by logging onto www.AAA.com/fuelfinder.