During what is expected to be the busiest week of travel in years, traffic followed a predictable pattern on metro Atlanta roads and highways the afternoon before Thanksgiving.
Traffic volume, minor accidents and even roadwork contributed to long travel times around town, but delays never reached the level of disaster. Traffic slowed to a crawl in many of the typical spots, including the Downtown Connector, Spaghetti Junction and the Cobb Cloverleaf, but most slowdowns around the metro area dissipated by nightfall.
The exception is I-75 in Cobb County, where a fire in the woods near the interstate and the Barrett Parkway exit has caused lane closures since about 4:40 p.m. There are delays on I-75 in both directions between Marietta and Acworth.
More than 1.6 million Georgians are expected to drive more than 50 miles during the week of Thanksgiving, according to the AAA auto club. The increase in travelers isn’t just the largest since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — it’s the largest in two decades.
Despite concerns about gas prices and inflation, “Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began,” AAA vice president of travel Debbie Haas said in a statement.
“The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Traffic will significantly increase, causing congestion and delays,” Col. Christopher Wright, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said. “Travelers should prepare for the inevitable to avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Though GDOT suspended its routine closures for roadwork in anticipation of heavy Thanksgiving traffic, DeKalb County was forced to close lanes on Covington Highway for emergency maintenance on a broken water main.
The far right lanes are closed in each direction at South Hairston Road, where crews have been working for more than 24 hours to repair the water main, Channel 2 Action News reported. Water officials have opened nearby fire hydrants to relieve pressure off the broken pipe, causing muddy water to gush down the road, the news station reported.
In most cases, crashes have been cleared quickly, even when they involved injuries. An earlier crash on I-85 South at Beaver Ruin Road in Gwinnett County was moved to the shoulder in less than 20 minutes, though it still caused backups to Ga. 316.
— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.