Georgia DOT announces pause in lane closures for Thanksgiving

roadwork equipment in article about lane closed SR 360roadwork equipment (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Cobb County residents who have suffered through the seemingly endless roadwork on SR 360, Veterans Memorial Highway, SR 92, and I-20 over the past few months will get a break from the lane closures over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

The Georgia Department of Transportation issued the following press release announcing a pause in the lane closures over Thanksgiving:

Atlanta –To allow for anticipated increase in holiday traffic, Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) announced today the suspension of lane closures on Georgia interstates and state routes beginning Wednesday, November 24 at 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday, November 28. These statewide lane closure restrictions will help to reduce traffic congestion during the Thanksgiving holiday. Similar restrictions will be in place for Christmas and New Year’s.While construction related lane closures will be suspended, the department reminds travelers to exercise caution as crews may still work near highways, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain in place. In addition, incident management or emergency, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary at any time on any route.

“By limiting lane closures during the holiday season, we hope to promote a safer, less congested traveling experience,” said Georgia DOT State Construction Engineer John D. Hancock. “Unfortunately, we have seen a noticeable increase in motor vehicle fatalities nationwide due to distracted driving, speeding and driving under the influence. This holiday season and always, we encourage all drivers to put down the cellphones, buckle up, slow down and drive sober.”

Based on travel volume data following Labor Day Weekend 2021, it is predicted that Thanksgiving travel volumes will return to pre-pandemic levels this year. If you do need to travel this holiday, please keep in mind the following Thanksgiving travel forecast for metro Atlanta interstates: 

  • Heavy congestion on Friday, November 19, prior to typical Thanksgiving travel days
  • Heaviest traffic and congestion on Wednesday, November 24 between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Light traffic beginning Thursday, November 25 until Saturday, November 27

Additionally, historical Thanksgiving travel data from 2019 and 2020 for major interstates outside of metro Atlanta have shown the following trends starting from the afternoon of Wednesday, November 24 to early evening of Sunday, November 28:  

  • I-20 eastbound congestion on Wednesday, November 24 heading into metro Atlanta; westbound congestion Sunday, November 28 heading out of the city towards Alabama. 
  • I-24 is expected to have eastbound congestion
  • I-75 is predicted to have heavy congestion southbound and northbound coming out of Atlanta in Stockbridge. 
  • I-85 congestion near the South Carolina and Alabama borders
  • I-95 northbound congestion in Savannah.

If you find yourself needing to travel during the week of Thanksgiving, keep the below tips in mind before hitting the road. 

  • The best time for travel is in the morning, before 10 am. 
  • Traffic volumes begin to increase in the afternoon after 12 pm, when drivers are departing work early or finishing last-minute shopping lists. 
  • If traveling in or around metro Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 24, plan to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time due to increased congestion. 

The GDOT recommends the following safety precautions for drivers approaching the work zone:

As always, motorists traveling in the area are reminded to reduce their speeds in the work zone. Motorists are also encouraged to wear seatbelts, eliminate distractions behind the wheel, and plan their routes before getting on the road by calling 511 for real-time information on work status and traffic conditions.

About the Georgia Department of Transportation

The GDOT describes itself as follows:

Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT and its nearly 4,000 employees are committed to delivering a transportation system focused on innovation, safety, sustainability and mobility. The Department’s vision is to boost Georgia’s competitiveness through leadership in transportation. 

The GDOT’s governing body is the 14-member State Transportation Board. The board is chosen by the state legislative delegations of each of the 14 congressional districts in Georgia. The board members serve five-year terms.

The board is currently chaired by Emily Dunn from the 9th Congressional District.

The State Transportation Board chooses the commissioner, currently Russell R. McMurry.

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