BALTIMORE COUNTY — As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and the $27 million Bay Bridge deck rehabilitation project continues, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is reminding motorists to travel during off-peak hours, stay alert and plan ahead to avoid travel delays.
MDTA expects that between Tuesday, November 26, and Sunday, December 1, more than 3.4 million travelers will use its highways, bridges and tunnels. This is a slight increase compared to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period.
Based on traffic counts from previous years, Wednesday, November 27, is expected to be the heaviest travel day of the week.
“We’re expecting nearly 465,000 vehicles to cross the Bay Bridge during the holiday week, and so we’re urging travelers to go early, stay late, and cross the bridge during our recommended travel times, when we expect the least number of vehicles,” said MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports.
“Stay alert for your safety and the safety of our work crews who are giving up holiday time. And with the holidays upon us, please be courteous to other drivers.”
With ongoing construction, the Bay Bridge westbound span’s right lane remains closed.
The deck surface of the Bay Bridge right lane has reached the end of its service life and is severely deteriorated. To expedite the rehabilitation project, crews are working day and night, seven days a week and will continue during Thanksgiving week.
This will save significant time because crews not only gain the work week, but didn’t have to stop work in advance of the holiday to prepare the right lane for traffic. That process would have involved removing jersey barriers and re-striping lanes.
Motorists should expect major delays in both directions and plan to leave an extra 20 to 30 minutes early if crossing the bridge. Recommended times to travel the Bay Bridge during the Thanksgiving holiday are:
• Tuesday through Friday, November 26-29, before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• Monday, December 2, before noon and after 8 p.m.
• Tuesday and Wednesday, November 26-27, before 5 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
• Thursday through Sunday, November 28-December 1, before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• Monday, December 2, before 5 a.m. and after 2 p.m.
From Wednesday, November 27, through Saturday, November 30, cashless tolling will be in effect at the Bay Bridge from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. During this time only, motorists will be video tolled at the cash rate if they do not have an E-ZPass.
If using a rental vehicle, you can add the vehicle temporarily to your E-ZPass account. Otherwise, be sure to alert the rental car company prior to traveling a route that includes an all-electronic toll.
During Thanksgiving week, in addition to the 24/7 westbound right lane closure, the westbound span may be fully closed from 9 p.m. each night to 5 a.m. the following morning.
During these overnight closures, two-way traffic will operate on the eastbound span with one lane in each direction. There will be no two-way traffic on the westbound span during the holiday week unless there is an emergency.
MDTA Police will continue to work with Maryland State Police and local law enforcement to assist with traffic flow on US 50 and parallel routes.
MDTA has a new tool for commercial vehicle operators with a CDL to subscribe to #BayBridgeWork notifications by text and/or email.
Tourism Office promotes ‘Go Early, Stay Late’
To help spread out travel on the Bay Bridge to and from the Eastern Shore during the holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism coordinated new offers to encourage travelers to ‘Go Early, Stay Late,’ including enhancing its ‘Home for the Holidays’ initiative.
MDTA is running an awareness campaign that began November 18 and continues through December 1 in the Annapolis, Eastern Shore, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., markets.
The campaign uses billboards, social media and radio, print and digital advertising to remind Bay Bridge travelers to expect major delays in both directions throughout the holiday period.
For the latest on Bay Bridge traffic, call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) or visit baybridge.com to view traffic cameras.
Best times to travel Interstate 95
In addition to Bay Bridge advisories, MDTA is reminding motorists using I-95 to travel these off-peak hours:
• Tuesday and Wednesday, November 26-27, before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m.
• Thursday and Friday, November 28-29, before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• Saturday and Sunday, November 29-30, before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
Holiday travelers are reminded that all-electronic tolling is now in effect at all times on the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695) in Baltimore and Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40) at the Harford and Cecil counties line.
Tolls are collected via E-ZPass or video tolling. E-ZPass Maryland Customer Service Centers will be closed Thursday, November 28. Visit ezpassmd.com or use the automated system at 1-888-321-6824.
MDTA Police will remain vigilant over the holidays and will target impaired, aggressive and distracted drivers. The agency is reminding all motorists to buckle up, every seat, every time.
According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, crashes kill more than 120 unbelted drivers and passengers every year in Maryland.
MDTA will lift construction-related temporary lane closures on its roadways from 5 a.m. Wednesday, November 27, to 9 a.m. Monday, December 2 – except at the Bay Bridge.
MDTA Police and Vehicle Recovery Units will have additional patrols on duty to respond quickly to incidents and disabled vehicles. Motorists should move over when approaching an emergency, transportation, service and utility vehicle or tow truck with red, yellow or amber flashing lights.
If you are unable to move over, slow down. For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA.