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Traveling for Thanksgiving made painless

November 21, 2017 12:00 AM
By: Larissa Newton

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​More people are going to be traveling this Thanksgiving holiday than in the past dozen years, according to AAA. That's 1.6 million more travelers than last year, for a total of 50.9 million Americans hitting the roads, skies, rails, and waterways.

As in years past, PennDOT wants to help make your Thanksgiving travel on state roadways as painless as possible.

Thanksgiving travelers should check out our Historic Holiday Traffic page on, which allows users to see how traffic speeds on the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2015 and 2016 compare to traffic conditions during a typical, non-holiday week. Use this tool to decide the best times to travel during the holiday.

511PA also offers real-time traffic speed information for nearly 2,900 highway miles across the state, in addition to winter road conditions, construction and road incidents, and even weather forecasts.

Speaking of construction, PennDOT will be removing lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible through the holiday period. Use to see the remaining closures.


PennDOT's traffic management team analyzed our holiday data to identify locations and timeframes across the state where congestion typically increases dramatically. Using this data, we'll take steps to try to alleviate congestion and improve safety.

In the Harrisburg region, PennDOT identified consistent, increased congestion on the Sunday after the holiday near I-81 southbound at the I-78 split in Lebanon County. To attempt to ease this congestion, the department will:

  • Have a Pennsylvania State Police trooper stationed in the regional traffic management center on Sunday, November 26, for faster communications to field personnel for quick incident and shoulder clearance;
  • Use highway advisory radio messages and electronic message boards to encourage travelers to reroute onto U.S. 22 westbound, which typically has excess capacity;
  • Use a traffic signals expert in its regional traffic management center to manage U.S. 22's adaptive signal system to most effectively manage the rerouted traffic;
  • Partner with PSP on concentrated traffic enforcement near this area and to actively clear disabled vehicles from the roadway; and
  • Increase the hours that PennDOT's State Farm Safety Patrol will be on duty and patrolling this section of highway.

In the Philadelphia region, staff identified I-95 in Delaware County, I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway), and U.S. 202 and 422 near the King of Prussia Mall and the Philadelphia Premium Outlets as target areas. To assist with quick incident and shoulder clearance, the department will increase the hours that PennDOT's State Farm Safety Patrol will be on duty.

In the central region, congestion was identified at the I-80 Exit 161 (Bellefonte) in Centre County on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. PennDOT will:

  • Station maintenance staff within the I-80/I-99/Route 26 interchange in Centre County to manage traffic with a flagging operation during peak congestion;
  • Proactively alert motorists of potential or actual delays using travel-time messages on electronic message signs;
  • Activate electronic message signs to reroute I-80 westbound traffic to Exit 173 (Lamar), use Route 64 south and return to I-99 southbound if necessary; and
  • Alert motorists of traffic conditions with highway advisory radio, electronic message signs and the 511PA service.

In the southwest region, traffic approaching the I-376 corridor east and west of the City of Pittsburgh on U.S. 19/Route 51, Route 28, U.S. 22, I-279, and I-79 will be alerted to I-376 conditions using electronic message boards. In addition:

  • PSP will have an increased presence near the corridor to assist with quick incident and shoulder clearance;
  • To facilitate anticipated traffic with the holiday and a Pittsburgh College football game on Friday, existing PennDOT State Farm Safety Patrols will be supplemented by PennDOT tunnel maintenance staff on 16 miles of I-376; and
  • PennDOT tunnel maintenance staff will patrol 16 miles of I-376 on Saturday.

You can also get traffic alerts by following PennDOT's regional Twitter accounts. Or get general transportation news by following PennDOT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram​.​

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