Saturday, July 2, 2022
Jennifer Franciotti and Khiree Stewart, WBAL-TV 11
Marylanders who are flying or driving for the July Fourth holiday should expect plenty of company.
“Wherever you go on our interstates here in Maryland, expect higher-than-normal volumes,” Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic expects this July Fourth weekend to be busier than last year with just shy of 1 million drivers on Maryland roadways.
“It’s actually a 2% increase over the number of travelers that actually went away last Fourth of July,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Ali said.
And, the projected numbers come despite increased gas prices, which went up in Maryland by 7 cents per gallon after theannual gas tax increasetook effect at midnight Thursday. Maryland’s average price for regular gas per gallon is $4.77, according to AAA.
“We have been seeing a pretty steady decline over the past week, about $0.11 less than what we were paying last week; however, it’s still $1.77 more than what we are paying this time last year,” Ali said.
To help on the roads, the Maryland State Highway is suspending all nonemergency construction this weekend and activating its Eastern Shore transportation plan, which adds extra crews on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Gischlar said the crews will be in place “to make sure, if something happens on (U.S. Route) 50 before the bridge and on Eastern Shore to Easton, that we can get in there and clear it up, because for every minute that a lane is closed when it’s a critical lane volume, major backing, it takes four minutes to clear that backup and increases the likelihood of another secondary crash.”
SHA officials said drivers can help by ensuring cars are filled with gas and ready for the road to avoid breakdowns.
“Just a couple extra minutes could really seriously save you an expensive repair and keep you on the road instead of on the side of the road,” Gischlar said.
Air travel is also expected to be higher at a time when airports across the country are experiencingmassive flight delays and cancellations.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is already seeing a summer surge ahead of the holiday.
“I’m visiting my family back home in Honduras, and I get to meet my nephew who is turning 2,” said Eva Mazier, one of the thousands of holiday travelers traveling through BWI-Marshall this weekend. “I think this has been the priciest I paid for a summer trip when I went back home. It’s insane.”
Stephanie and Sean Garvey flew domestic to spend the holiday with their family.
“We’re going to hang out, we’re going to enjoy our family, we’re going to watch fireworks, we’re going to maybe go out to dinner, have a few drinks,” Stephanie Garvey said.
BWI-Marshall said this will be a busy weekend with the return of several domestic and international routes. More than 31,000 travelers departed from BWI-Marshall last Thursday. The airport said that was the highest number since the start of the pandemic, even surpassing the day before Thanksgiving in 2021.
Travelers are recommended to arrive two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, to check their flight status before arriving and to pack properly for Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.
So far, Mazier said things have been smooth and she’s happy more people are starting to travel again.
“I’m glad that everybody’s learning to live with what we have, but also being mindful, which I think is very important as we travel,” Mazier said.
BWI-Marshall recently reopened its Express Parking Lot, which frees up around 1,400 parking spaces for customers.
As of late Friday night, there were only a couple of cancellations or delays. Airport officials say travelers should check with their airline before arriving for their flights.