FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MDOT SHA Communications – 410-545-0303
MDOT MAA/BWI Marshall Communications – 410-859-7027
MDTA Communications – 410-537-1017
MDOT MTA Communications – 410-767-8367
MDOT MVA/Highway Safety Office Communications – 410-424-3697
Whether Traveling by Plane, Train or Automobile This Holiday Season,
Leave Early and Plan Ahead to Ensure Many Happy Returns
HANOVER, MD (November 18, 2021) – Maryland's highways, bridges, rail lines and airways are expected to hit new milestones in the pandemic recovery over the coming weeks, as millions of people travel to spend the holiday season with family and friends. Employees across the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) are prepared to help travelers make the connections that bring joy over the holidays, and urge everyone to practice safety, courtesy and patience wherever their journeys take them.
“The essence of a happy holiday season is spending time with friends and loved ones, and our MDOT family takes great pride in the role we play to bring people together," said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “If we all keep in mind simple travel rules – like taking your time, paying attention, using seat belts and never driving impaired – we can make sure every mother and father, son and daughter, grandparent and grandchild gets to their destinations safely and efficiently."
AAA is predicting this year's Thanksgiving holiday will see 54.6 million people traveling nationwide. That's a 1.5% increase from 2021. Locally, AAA Mid-Atlantic is projecting that about a million Marylanders will travel over the holiday, an increase of just under 1% compared to last year.
More than 72,000 Marylanders will travel by air this Thanksgiving, according to the AAA Mid-Atlantic forecast. At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, departing passenger traffic in October reached 803,945 passengers, an increase of 15% compared to October 2021. On October 23, BWI Marshall saw its busiest single day since the pandemic began, with 32,309 departing passengers. Even greater numbers are projected over Thanksgiving. The airport expects its highest passenger traffic since late 2019.
Travelers using BWI Marshall over the holidays should allow plenty of time for parking, airline check-in and the TSA security checkpoints. The airport reopened its Express Parking lot earlier this year to provide an additional 1,400 spaces for customers during peak travel times. For BWI Marshall Airport news and updates, go to https://www.bwiairport.com/ or on Twitter @BWI_Airport.
DELIVERING FOR MARYLANDERS … AND MARYLAND'S ECONOMY
Overall highway traffic continues to increase across Maryland from pandemic levels, and the trucking industry has utilized the state highway network as a key asset to help maintain the supply chain and respond to consumer demand. Maryland is home to many e-commerce distribution, fulfillment and sorting centers, and our state highways, airports and Maryland's Port of Baltimore serve as critical arteries for millions of items intended for retail and e-commerce consumers.
Last year BWI Marshall Airport experienced a record year for cargo and now accounts for the majority of airport cargo operations in the National Capital region – more than Dulles International and Reagan Washington National airports combined. At Maryland's Port of Baltimore, the most recent monthly figures for total cargo are up 2.5% compared to last year, and the port remains the top ranked port in America for overall volumes of automobiles and light trucks.
“MDOT's first goal is always to safely and conveniently deliver people to their destinations, but we know Maryland's transportation network also provides a vital link for our economy – and for the goods and gifts that make the holidays special for so many," Secretary Ports said.
ON HIGHWAYS AND THE BAY BRIDGE, TRAVEL SAFELY AND AVOID THE RUSH
Those traveling this Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the holiday season share a responsibility to keep themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors safe. MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration's (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office will share safety messages on social media throughout the holidays as part of its Be The Driver campaign, urging travelers to buckle up, reduce speeds, avoid distractions and NEVER drive impaired. Maryland experienced 563 highway fatalities in 2021. Please remember these simple rules of the road:
- Be the Buckled Up Driver. It's the law. Make sure all passengers, including those in back seats, are using seat belts.
- Be the Slow Down Driver. Observe all posted speed limits.
- Be the Sober Driver. Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs. Make a plan for a sober ride home.
- Be the Focused Driver. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. Don't text and drive.
- Be the Patient Driver. Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.
- Be the Share the Road Driver. Be on the lookout for bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Be the Prepared Driver. In an emergency, can dial #77 to reach Maryland State Police.
Also, remember Maryland's newly expanded Move Over Law now requires motorists to make a lane change or slow down when approaching any stopped, standing or parked vehicle displaying hazard warning lights, road flares or other caution signals. If you cannot safely move over, slow down to a safe speed.
Law enforcement will be on patrol to stop suspected impaired drivers. In addition to risking injury or death for themselves and others, those driving under the influence risk arrest, jail time, legal costs and fines. Learn more about the MDOT MVA's Highway Safety Office's commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.
At the Bay Bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is advising holiday travelers to expect delays from Tuesday, November 23, to Monday, November 28. The best times to travel will be:
- Tuesday, November 22, and Wednesday, November 23 – before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 24 – before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m.;
- Friday, November 25 – before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m.;
- Saturday, November 26, and Sunday, November 27 – before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.; and
- Monday, November 28 – before noon and after 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 22, and Wednesday, November 23 – before 6 a.m. and after 6 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 24 – before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m.;
- Friday, November 25 – before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.;
- Saturday, November 26, and Sunday, November 27 – before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.; and
- Monday, November 28 – before 6 a.m. and after 2 p.m.
Weather and traffic volumes permitting, the MDTA will implement two-way operations to help alleviate eastbound delays. Please obey overhead lane use control signals. Two-way operations are prohibited during bridge wind warnings/restrictions, fog or precipitation.
Motorists should stay on US 50 on both sides of the bridge to keep local roadways open for first responders and residents. For real-time updates on incidents on Maryland toll roads follow twitter.com/TheMDTA. For 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic information call 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or visit baybridge.com. You also can sign up for traffic email/text alerts at https://bit.ly/2Dh9EZn, and follow the MDTA at facebook.com/TheMDTA.
Motorists should expect highway congestion between Tuesday, November 22, and Sunday, November 27. The busiest time on Maryland highways prior to Thanksgiving is expected to be between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 22, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 23. Traffic is expected to be moderate Sunday, with the busiest period expected between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) will suspend major lane closures for non-emergency roadwork from 5 a.m. Wednesday, through 9 a.m. Monday, November 28.
NOTE: Please see the following links for traffic forecast charts for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the greater Baltimore area and the Washington, D.C. Metro area.
MDOT SHA's Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART), as well as units from MDTA will be on duty to help motorists with breakdowns or incidents. If you must stop for a roadside emergency, remember to first assess the situation. If you are able to remain in your vehicle while help is on the way, stay buckled and face forward. If you must exit your vehicle, stand as far away from your vehicle and the roadway as possible. For live traffic cameras, weather information and real-time roadway conditions, go to roads.maryland.gov.
MDOT MVA branch offices and Vehicle Emission Inspection Program (VEIP) stations will be closed Thursday, November 24. Branch offices will reopen Friday, November 25, by appointment only. VEIP testing will also resume November 25 and does not require an appointment. MDOT MVA self-service VEIP kiosks, online services, and 24-hour kiosks will be available through the holiday. Customers are encouraged to sign up for a myMVA account to take advantage of the many services available online.
USE TRANSIT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON FOR SHOPPING, LOCAL VISITS
On Thanksgiving Day, MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) will operate on a modified schedule. CityLink and LocalLink buses, Light RailLink and Metro SubwayLink will follow the Sunday/Holiday schedule, while Commuter Bus will not operate Thanksgiving Day or on Friday, November 25, except for the Bus Route 201, which will operate on the Weekend/Holiday schedule.
MARC Train will not operate Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, November 25, MARC Train will not operate service on the Camden and Brunswick lines. Penn Line service will operate on the Saturday schedule. MobilityLink will not operate subscription rides Thanksgiving Day. Customers are asked to call the Mobility Call Center at 410-764-8181 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to reschedule Thanksgiving Day rides.
MDOT MTA Transit is a convenient way to travel during the holiday season to visit family and friends and support local businesses. With real-time technology and the Transit app, it's easy to know when your bus or train will arrive. Learn more at www.mta.maryland.gov/transit. MDOT MTA offers fare options with CharmFlex three- and 10-day passes. These discounted fares provide the best value for riders traveling only a few times per week or on non-consecutive days. Go to www.mta.maryland.gov/charmpass for details, and check www.mta.maryland.gov for the up-to-date information, as service schedules will change with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
MDOT wishes all Marylanders and visitors a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Stay in touch with MDOT on Twitter @MDOTNews and at facebook.com/MDOTNews/.