Chicago Corridor Named Among Worst for Peak Thanksgiving Road Travel

AAA expects the highest Thanksgiving congestion to hit the day before Thanksgiving, and one Chicago-area expressway is among the worst.

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As COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift across the U.S., AAA predicts 53 million people will travel this Thanksgiving, with 48.3 million of those people traveling by car — despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year.

The worst traffic is expected on Wednesday heading into the holiday weekend, as commuters leave work early to hit the road and mix with holiday travelers.

3 States Removed, 1 Added Back as Chicago Travel Advisory Updated Before Thanksgiving

Major metro areas across the U.S. could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times, with drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City likely to experience more than three times the delays.

According to AAA, peak congestion is expected in the Chicago area on I-294 West from Morgan Street to Wolfe Road on Wednesday, Nov. 24, between 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.

At that time, traffic is predicted to be 329 percent over normal.

Best Times for Road Travel on Thanksgiving Week

According to AAA and INRIX, the best times for road travel are:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24: After 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: Before 11 a.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 26: Before 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 27: Before 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 28: Before 12 p.m.

Worst Times for Road Travel on Thanksgiving Week

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 26: 1 p.m,. - 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 27: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 28: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.

AAA recommends checking COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for travel restrictions near you, and to stay up-to-date on traffic and closures in your area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its recommendations for holiday gatherings and related travel, saying that the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. 

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