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Georgia DOT Suspending Lane Closures During Thanksgiving Holiday, Best and Worst Travel Times for 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, Nov. 23 at 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27. 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.

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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.

If you’re headed to the Atlanta Metro Area, here are the predicted best and worst travel times from GDOT:

Based on historical travel volume data, Georgia DOT is anticipating an increase in congestion on metro Atlanta interstates beginning the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 21 and are expected to continue to be heavier than usual through Wednesday evening. Out-of-state motorists traveling may not be aware of the #Transform285400 changes that have occurred over the past year.

If you do need to travel this holiday, please keep in mind the following Thanksgiving travel forecast for metro Atlanta interstates: 

  • Moderate traffic on Monday, Nov. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 22, prior to typical Thanksgiving travel days
  • Heaviest traffic and congestion on Wednesday, Nov. 23 between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Light traffic Thursday, Nov. 24 and Friday, Nov. 25
  • Moderate traffic expected to return Saturday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 27 as people make their way back home
Additionally, historical Thanksgiving travel data from 2021 for major interstates outside of metro Atlanta have shown the following trends starting from the afternoon of Wednesday, November 23, 2022 to early evening of Sunday, November 27, 2022:

  • 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 congestion near the South Carolina and Alabama borders.
  • I-95 northbound congestion in Savannah.

Below are the adjusted schedules for the South Metro Express Lanes and the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes. Pink text indicates a change in schedule.

If you find yourself needing to travel during the week of Thanksgiving, keep the below travel time 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. 23, plan to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time due to increased congestion between noon-6:00pm.

Safety 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.
  • Drive cautiously at night and watch for deer and wildlife
    • Turn on your headlights at night.
    • Avoid using high beam lights in the sight of other approaching objects.
  • Prepare your vehicle
    • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle
    • Check your tires before leaving as colder temperatures can affect the pressure
  • 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.

For up-to-date information about travel conditions on Georgia’s interstates and state routes, call 511 or visit 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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