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State warns travelers of I-95 delays

Nearly 850,000 Marylanders are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from home over the Thanksgiving holiday, an 11.8 percent increase over last year, according to projections from AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The extra drivers coupled with a handful of lane closures that won’t be lifted for the holiday, led the Maryland Transportation Authority to warn of significant delays along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Work being done on the Delaware toll plaza in Newark could lead to backups stretching into Harford County, according to the authority. Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be the peak travel days. Nearby, travel on the Route 40 bridge over the Susquehanna River will be limited to one lane in each direction.

The authority anticipates more than 2.8 million vehicles will stop at the seven toll booths along the state’s roadways, a 2 percent increase over last year’s six-day travel period, which runs Tuesday through Sunday. More than 780,000 vehicles are expected to travel through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, and 700,000 at the I-95 toll plaza in Cecil County. And through it all, MDTA police will be upping their enforcement of seatbelt laws, particularly at night.

AAA spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella said higher gas prices — the $2.87 average is 26 cents higher than last year — will “be offset by the somewhat healthier economic position of households this holiday relative to last year.”

“As the economy appears to inch its way on a path to recovery nationally and locally, the outlook for Thanksgiving travel is bright this year,” she said.

AAA expects 95 percent of the Marylanders going 50 miles to travel by car, and fewer than 4 percent to fly.

The automotive group, however, expects those who travel to stay closer to home, and spend less, estimating the average Marylander will go 938 miles and shell out $601, well down from last year’s 1,071-mile average trip and $796 price tag.