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What you need to know before hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday

The Georgia Department of Transportation is warning motorists when the roads are expected to me the most congested.

ATLANTA — Georgia's Department of Transportation said drivers should expect heavy congestion on the roads ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. More than 53 million people are anticipated to hit the roads and over 4 million are flying to spend time with loved ones, according to AAA. That's up over 80% since 2020.

For those planning to take to the streets, GDOT gave insight on when drivers could expect the worst delays.

GDOT is suspending all lane closures starting Wednesday Nov. 24 at 5 a.m. That will run all the way through Sunday at midnight. Similar restrictions are anticipated ahead of other major holidays like Christmas and New Year's Day as well.

On Monday, Nov. 22 and Tuesday, Nov. 23, GDOT said people can expect standard traffic on the roads. Congestion may even be a bit lighter than normal.

Wednesday, Nov. 24 is the day travelers should watch out for. It's one of the busiest travel days of the year. Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday is considered the "zero hour," when last-minute shoppers, early-work departures and holiday commuters will hit the pavement. 

Both northbound and southbound lanes of the Downtown Connector and Interstate 75 heading all the way through Clayton and Henry County are expected to be traffic chaos. The congestion from these areas could add 40 minutes or more of travel time.

Standard traffic returns for Thursday, Nov. 25, Friday Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27. 

But Sunday, Nov. 28, is when traffic is expected to kick up a notch. That's when many people are heading back to town after visiting loved ones. Although GDOT said there may be moderate post-holiday congestion from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 11Alive's Crash Clark warned roadways may be packed with heavy delays from Locust Grove all the way back up into Midtown heading northbound on I-75.

People are urged to check their tires, gas and other routine measures, as well as account for extra travel time as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday.

Stay alert, and remember to never drink and drive.