Driving Home This Thanksgiving? You’re Not Alone

Nov 23, 2016

Nearly 3.5 million travelers are expected to use the Turnpike this holiday weekend. The most travelers since 2007 are expected to be on roads nationally.
Credit Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel day for the holiday, though Pennsylvania Turnpike officials said Tuesday was projected to be the busiest day for holiday travel on the roadway.

Nearly 3.5 million drivers are expected to use the Turnpike through Sunday.

AAA expects almost 6 million people in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and New York, will travel more than 50 miles for the holiday. About 49 million people will travel nationally, the most since 2007. Most of those people will be driving, which can be attributed to steady gas prices.

Herman Jenkins, director of public affairs for AAA East Central, said the average gas price in Pittsburgh has increased by 8 cents from this time last year.

Based on a sample size of 200 gas stations the average price, according to AAA, gas in the city is $2.40 per gallon, while the website Gas Buddy reports the national average per gallon is $2.11.

Meteorologist Lee Hendricks with the National Weather Service in Moon Township said some rain showers are expected Wednesday afternoon making roads wet, but temperatures will stay above freezing. Temperatures will increase through the end of the week until Monday when snow showers are expected. 

Though the days leading up to the holiday are busiest for road travel, Pittsburgh International Airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said Sunday and Monday are anticipated to be busiest with 33,000 people expected to go through the airport each day.

A dozen round trip flights are scheduled to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And the Chicago Tribune reports 500 workers, including baggage handlers and janitors, have committed to strike and plan to picket outside the terminals.

While Kerlik said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be busy, but arriving two hours before a flight is sufficient.

“People don’t have to show up three and four hours in advance or anything crazy like that,” he said. “The lines here will be a little bit longer, but they’ll be nothing like you’ll see on TV in some of the larger cities.”