John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Monday, July 2, 2018) –– “Congestion ahead. Expect delays.” Woe to those traveling on the day before the Fourth of July holiday, a day dubbed “Terrible Tuesday,” around major metropolitan areas across the county, including the Washington metro area. Today is “Mournful Monday” because there will be “hell to pay” as early as 6:30 A.M. this morning on northbound Interstate 95, and later this morning on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway, around 11:30 A.M. Here, getaway speeds will slow to 12 miles per hour, creating chokepoints. Travel times will be four times longer than usual, forming bottlenecks. It might be July, but traffic will be “as slow as molasses in January” on area freeways.

Pre-Fourth of July traffic slowdowns will reach a nadir in the Washington metro area an hour after sunrise this morning, then before noon today, and during the afternoon rush hour tomorrow, warn INRIX and AAA Mid-Atlantic. Getaway gridlock will be at its very worse Tuesday afternoon, July 3, from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. During the Fourth of July holiday getaway, traffic flow will become stop-and-go on major freeways and along major corridors across the Washington metro area, already one of the most gridlocked areas in the whole wide world on any given day. So expect traffic back-ups and brace yourself for travel frustrations on U.S. Route 50, Interstate 270, Interstate 95, and along the Inner Loop and Outer Loop of Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway).

“For area residents who already lose 80 hours a year stuck in traffic, this means congestion will be much heavier and more unbearable than usual this morning, Monday, July 2, when it quadruples on a stretch of the iconic Capital Beltway, and on Tuesday, July 3, when travel times will be twice as long as the normal trip on area freeways,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Public & Government Affairs Manager. “The two-fold increase in travel times will spell gridlock in capital letters across the area as holiday travelers sit idling in traffic.”



Peak Date

Peak Time

Normal Travel Time

Predicted Travel Time


% Delay

Speed (MpH)

US50 W


1:15 p.m.

32 mins

1 hr

28 mins



I95 S


4 p.m.

1 hr & 2 mins

1 hr & 43 mins

41 mins



I95 N


6:30 a.m.

48 mins

1 hr & 39 mins

51 mins



Capital Beltway Anticlockwise


4 p.m.

29 mins

41 mins

12 mins



Capital Beltway Clockwise


11:30 a.m.

10 mins

51 mins

41 mins



I270 N


5 p.m.

48 mins

1 hr & 35 mins

46 mins



US50 E


2:30 p.m.

37 mins

1 hr & 43 mins

1 hr & 6 mins





The one million Washington area residents heading elsewhere for the Fourth of July by automobile will be confronted by clogged roadways and congested routes. The 1,009,700 souls living in and around Washington who are traveling by automobile will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Tuesday, July 3, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the late afternoon, as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, predicts INRIX, in collaboration with AAA. “Some area freeways and roads will be particularly more delayed than others,” said Townsend. “In an ideal world, travelers should consider leaving early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the holiday traffic apocalypse during peak hours."

Holiday travelers hoping to sneak away before or just after daybreak on northbound Interstate 95 will be bedeviled by travel delays that will mount by 106 percent an hour after sunrise this morning, Monday, July 2nd, as traffic grinds to 21.1 mph at 6:30 A.M. Gridlocked, they will while away the time with those heading to work early. That means a trip on I-95 North in the morning rush hour under normal travel conditions, if there is such a thing on the arterial, will prolong by 48 minutes to an hour and 39 minutes, a getaway volume delay of 51 minutes.

But the “mother of all” travel delays will manifest itself a few hours later today on the Capital Beltway clockwise, or along the Inner Loop, on Monday morning, July 2, as getaway traffic comes to a sudden stop on both sides of the Potomac River. Beginning a half hour before high noon or lunchtime, at 11:30 A.M. to be exact, travel delays will elongate 394 percent over normal travel times, advises INRIX, which collects data via mobile application, GPS systems in personal and commercial vehicles and road sensors.

This means a trip that would normally take 10 minutes will stretch to 51 minutes due to molasses-like real-time speeds, traffic disruptions, lane restrictions and too much competition for the same stretch of real estate by too many travelers on the arterial at the same time. The slowdown will balloon as traffic creeps along at 12 miles per hour, causing traffic headaches and heartbreaks. When the abnormal becomes the accepted, it is enough to cause holiday travelers to virtually grab their torches and their pitchforks.

Wonder why INRIX and AAA are calling tomorrow, July 3, “Terrible Tuesday?”  Here are some examples of why it will be a traffic and travel nightmare.  During the workweek, the Interstate 270 Corridor carries 79,400 to 261,200 vehicles per day. Peak traffic delays and reduced travel times on northbound I-270 will increase by nearly 100 percent, starting at the 5 P.M. rush hour on “Terrible Tuesday.” Free-flowing traffic will dissipate to 19 miles per hour. The normal travel time is 48 minutes. However, traffic delays will elongate to an hour and 35 minutes, with delays of an extra 46 minutes. I-270 connects the Washington, D.C. area to Frederick, Maryland.

The Interstate 95 Corridor in Northern Virginia, averages 23 traffic jams a day and carries 230,000 vehicles day-in and day-out from the Capital Beltway to Prince William County. On the Maryland side, brace yourself for travel delays at the I-95/I-495 concurrency, starting at Exit 27. Here, I-95 conveys holiday travelers and commuters to and from the Beltway to Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

The worst time to travel southbound I-95 is tomorrow afternoon, on the Eve of the Fourth of July. In normal traffic conditions, the trek on I-95 South during the afternoon rush typically takes an hour and two minutes. On “Terrible Tuesday,” July 3, it will stretch to an hour and 43 minutes, an additional 41 minutes of wasted time. Holiday travelers and drivers heading home early will end up staring at tail lights and brake light, and idling in “nose-to-tail” traffic queues. The shock to the system unfolds on I-95 South, starting at 4 P.M.

For those heading for the seaside and shore in Maryland and Delaware, travel times will protract by 180 percent, starting at 2:30 O’clock Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 50 Eastbound, which normally conveys 96,000 vehicles on peak summer travel days. Holiday travelers will find themselves stuck in long, slowing queues at an average speed of 21.1 miles per hour, warns INRIX. Anticipate eastbound delays.

The worst time to hit the road on U.S. Route 50 Westbound from Maryland Eastern Shore is Tuesday afternoon at 1:15 P.M., as travel delays increase 87 percent and highway speeds drop to 31 mph. A typical trip at the same time of day normally takes just over half an hour, or 32 minutes. It will worsen to one hour, an increase of 28 minutes in delays on the day before the holiday. Traffic to and from the Bay Bridge will be the heaviest Tuesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 8.

The one bright spot in all of this getaway gridlock on area freeways is the Capital Beltway anti-clockwise at 4:00 O’clock on the Eve of the Fourth of July. Those heading to the exits on vacation with “a cloud of dust,” and those heading home from work early along the Outer Loop tomorrow afternoon will end up wedged in near-standstill traffic, with speeds decelerating to 27.6 mph. Here, travel times will spike 41 percent, from the normal 29 minutes to 41 minutes. Mercifully, they will only encounter an extra 12 minutes of delays in the great exodus.

Every major roadway and freeway in the area will be filled to over-capacity. How can that be? That’s easy to do understand given the fact that Washington area residents make 20 million daily trips. Yet 75 percent of all daily trips in the region are non-commuting trips, according to the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance (SMTA). Commuters and departing holiday travelers hoping to avoid traffic jams in which no vehicular movement is possible – the textbook definition of gridlock – may wish to explore alternate routes.

The Fourth of July, a public holiday that celebrates the nation’s independence, falls on a Wednesday, the middle of the work week, this year. The last time that happened was in 2012.

It has the makings of a long weekend, which has only been around since the tail end of the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century. During the Fourth, some holiday vacationers will convert it into an “eight-day weekend.” You bet! Taking much-needed time-off, others will embark on a “six-day holiday excursion.”

As with all major holiday travel periods, “some people will leave earlier or later than normal to avoid peak hours,” observes the Transportation Planning Board (TPB). “Other will chose alternative routes in hopes of avoiding back-ups.” It is not just roadways in the Washington metro area that you have to worry about. With 46.9 million Americans venturing 50 miles or more away from home during the Fourth, travel times could increase two-fold in the major cities across the United States, with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. experiencing the most significant delays.  Here is the tale of the tape:

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip

San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, July 3

3:00 - 6:00 PM


Seattle, WA

Tuesday, July 3

3:00 - 6:00 PM


Detroit, MI

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 5:30 PM


Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 5:30 PM


Boston, MA

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 6:30 PM


New York, NY

Tuesday, July 3

3:30 - 6:30 PM


Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Chicago, IL

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 3

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Houston, TX

Tuesday, July 3

4:30 - 6:30 PM



With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around major metros,” says Scott Sedlik, general manager and vice president - public sector, INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will, hands down, be the worst time to be on the road. Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.

Come July 3rd, getaway travelers and those clocking out earlier throughout the afternoon will intermingle and mix on area interstates during rush hour, spawning the biggest traffic slowdowns during the holiday travel period. That is to be expected, given the fact that a grand total of 3.4 million persons from the Washington, D.C. metro area, Maryland and Virginia will travel for the Fourth of July. Of that number, 2.9 million persons from the three areas will travel by automobile to their Fourth of July holiday destinations.

The fact that the Fourth of July occurs on a Wednesday this year, provides all the more reason for a record number of people in the region, and across the nation, to undertake weekend trip of 50 miles or more from home, and nine out of ten will do so by the highway. After all, they have plenty of vacation days to burn. Every year more than half of Americans fail to use all their time off, creating a stock pile of 662 million unused vacation days.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app ( for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit


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Washington, D.C. Mailing Address:
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 78,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

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