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Georgia DOT suspending lane closures, predicting best and worst travel times during Thanksgiving holiday

To accommodate the expected increase in holiday traffic, the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) will suspend lanes closures on Georgia interstates, major state routes and roads near major shopping centers, malls, or districts beginning 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22, until 10 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26, with the aim of improving traffic flow during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

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The suspension of lane closures is part of an effort to minimize congestion and ensure a smooth travel experience for the public. Similar restrictions will be imposed to facilitate holiday travel during Christmas and New Year’s.

While construction-related lane closures will be suspended, travelers are encouraged to remain alert. Construction crews may still be working near highways, and certain long-term lane closures may be maintained for safety reasons. Furthermore, incident management or emergency maintenance-related lane closures could be implemented on any route at any time.

Travelers are advised to stay informed about road conditions, follow posted signs, and exercise caution, particularly near work zones. The Georgia DOT is committed to enhancing the safety and efficiency of holiday travel for all road users.

Georgia DOT anticipates increased traffic congestion on metro Atlanta interstates from the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 20, with heavy to worse-than-normal traffic levels expected for Wednesday, Nov. 22. Motorists should exercise caution on Sunday, Nov. 26 as this day has a high potential for crashes, with post-holiday congestion occurring between 5 – 8 p.m.

If holiday travel is necessary, consider the following Thanksgiving travel forecast for metro Atlanta interstates: 

  • Moderate traffic on Monday, Nov. 20 and Tuesday, Nov. 21
  • Heaviest traffic and congestion on Wednesday, Nov. 22 between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Light traffic Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24
  • Moderate traffic expected to return Saturday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 27 as people make their way back home
  • Heavy traffic and high potential for crashes Sunday, Nov. 26

Additionally, historical Thanksgiving travel data from 2022 for major interstates outside of metro Atlanta have shown the following trends starting from Monday, November 20 to Sunday, November 26:

  • I-20 eastbound congestion on Wednesday, Nov. 23 heading into metro Atlanta; westbound congestion Sunday, Nov. 27 heading towards Alabama
  • I-75 is predicted to have heavy congestion southbound and northbound coming out of Atlanta in Stockbridge
  • I-85 and I-185 congestion in west Georgia near Alabama
  • I-24 eastbound congestion near Chattanooga.
  • I-16 westbound congestion exiting Savannah and I-16 eastbound congestion entering Savannah.

Below are the adjusted schedules for the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes and the South Metro Express Lanes. Significant changes from the routine schedule, indicated in orange text below, will be implemented between November 20-26. Please note, the schedules are subject to change due to traffic needs.

With Black Friday shopping, historical data shows these traffic predictions for corridors near popular metro Atlanta shopping areas:

  • Lenox Mall (SR 141/Peachtree Rd)
    • Heavy, but better than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Perimeter Mall (Ashford Dunwoody Rd, Hammond Dr, Perimeter Center W)
    • Heavy, but better than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Cumberland Mall (SR 3N/Cobb Pkwy)
    • Heavy, but better than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Mall of Georgia (SR 20/Buford Dr)
    • Heavier than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 2 – 7 p.m.
  • Ponce City Market/Midtown Place (SR 8/Ponce De Leon Ave)
    • Heavy, but better than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Edgewood Retail District (SR 42/Moreland Ave)
    • Heavy, but better than normal traffic expected
    • Worst time: 2 – 6 p.m.

The weekend is expected to be a good time to travel on metro Atlanta surface streets with lighter than usual traffic. 

Safety Driving Tips:

  • Drive Alert, Stay Buckled, Minimize Distractions:
    • Motorists should always drive defensively with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road for the Thanksgiving travel period and beyond.
    • Too much turkey? Don’t worry, seat belts stretch! Always be sure to buckle up before hitting the road.
    • Click It or Ticket remains in full effect for the holiday travel period. Travelers should not operate a motor vehicle without first putting on their seat belt.
  • Plan Ahead
    • Before you hit the road, visit 511ga.orgdownload the free 511 Georgia app for turn-by-turn navigation and estimated travel times, to check traffic camera and for real-time travel speeds.
  • Call 511 to request HERO or CHAMP Assistance
    • HERO operators patrol the metro Atlanta area 24/7. It is a free service in the state of Georgia.
    • CHAMP operators patrol interstates outside of metro Atlanta (except I-59 and I-24) and is a free service.
  • Move over for First Responders 
    • Traffic-related incidents are a leading cause of death for law enforcement officers. Let’s all do our part to ensure highway safety. Drive alert, eliminate distractions, and stay focused on the road.
    • If traffic is too heavy to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit instead and to be prepared to stop.
    • Georgia’s Move-Over law requires drivers to move over one lane, if possible, if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the highway.
    • Vehicles included in the law include all first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO and CHAMP units, and wreckers tending to an accident.

For up-to-date information about travel conditions on Georgia’s interstates and state routes, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org before heading out. 511 is a free service that provides real-time statewide information on Georgia’s interstates and state routes, including traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures and delays due to inclement weather 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can also transfer to operators to request HERO assistance in metro Atlanta or CHAMP service on highways in other regions of the state.

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