Scott Shenk writes about transportation issues affecting Fredericksburg-area residents. You can email him at

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VDOT has tips to avoid Thanksgiving traffic

More people travel for Thanksgiving than for any other holiday.

With that in mind, the Virginia Department of Transportation has prepared for the onslaught.

One thing VDOT will do is suspend lane closures from Wednesday until Monday.

The transportation department also has provided some information, and links, that might help you plan around congested interstates in the coming days.

According to VDOT’s historical data, the day before and the day after Thanksgiving are the worst times to travel. The best times to travel probably will be sometime before noon on Wednesday and anytime after noon on Sunday.

VDOT also has compiled maps showing historical congestion trends. Click here to see them.

Here is VDOT’s breakdown of the historically congested areas at the beginning and end of the Thanksgiving holiday period:


  • Interstate 95 north and south between Occoquan and Springfield during the afternoon and evening hours, and south from Dumfries to Fredericksburg in the mid-morning through evening. In the Richmond area, south from just north of the Interstate 295 junction in the morning, afternoon and evening hours; north from just north of I-295 to Doswell in the late morning to afternoon hours. Scattered heavy congestion north and south through the downtown area in the morning, afternoon and evening hours.
  • Interstate 95/495 Outer and Inner Loop north and south from Van Dorn Street to Telegraph Road in the afternoon hours.
  • I-495 Outer Loop south from the Maryland state line to Tysons Corner from mid-morning through the evening; Inner Loop north near Interstate 66 during the morning, and from Springfield to the American Legion Bridge in the afternoon through evening.
  • I-66 east from Nutley Street to just beyond I-495, and from Route 29 to George Mason Drive during the morning; west from Washington, D.C., to Route 123 during the late morning to early evening.
  • Interstate 77 north from Castleton Road to I-81 from mid-morning to late evening.
  • Interstate 64 east just prior to Interstate 81 in the morning through midday; east in downtown Richmond just prior to the I-95 north interchange; west in downtown Richmond from Route 360 to the I-95 north interchange; east just prior to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in the morning and again in the afternoon through evening; east near the Interstate 464 interchange from midday through evening.
  • Interstate 64 west, scattered heavy congestion from Indian River Road to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in the morning through early evening.
  • Interstate 264 east and westscattered heavy congestion through downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth all day.

Although not based on historic data, congestion is anticipated Wednesday on Interstate 81 north and south in the vicinity of a lane closure and work zone at Scratch Gravel Road in Marion.

Traffic engineering reports estimate that congestion could begin six miles before the work zone for southbound traffic, and 3.5 miles before the work zone for north traffic.


  • I-95 north from Parham Road to Ashcake Road in the late morning hours, and scattered heavy congestion north and south from Parham Road to Route 207 in the afternoon and evening; scattered heavy congestion north and south from Spotsylvania County to Springfield from late morning and growing heavier in the afternoon and evening.
  • I-95/495 Outer Loop from Telegraph Road to the Maryland state line in the late afternoon and early evening.
  • I-495 Outer Loop south from the Maryland state line to Tysons Corner from mid- morning through the afternoon.
  • I-66 east scattered heavy congestion from Route 50 to Arlington during the late afternoon and evening.
  • I-81 north from Salem to Roanoke in the late morning through the afternoon, with north and south congestion extending in the afternoon through evening from Christiansburg to Danville; north and south along the I-77 overlap between Wytheville and Fort Chiswell during the afternoon to late evening; south from Stuarts Draft to Buena Vista in the late morning, extending as far north as Staunton during the evening; northbound from Buena Vista to Fairfield in the late morning, and extending further south to Glasgow through the afternoon; north and south through the downtown Harrisonburg area during the evening.
  • I-77 north and south from Coulson Church Road to I-81 during the late morning hours; scattered heavy congestion north and south from the North Carolina state line to I-81 near Fort Chiswell from early afternoon to evening; south from the Route 52 interchange to the I-81 interchange.


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