Minneapolis-St. Paul did not show up on Google’s list of cities with the worst Thanksgiving traffic (the worst are Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco if that’s your destination). But the Twin Cities will have its fair share.
You played it right if you waited until Thursday to travel. That’s when traffic will be the lightest, according to the navigation app Waze, which analyzed 2014 traffic patterns and reports from the 70,000 drivers in the metro area.
Thursday should see the lightest levels of traffic, but do expect lots of activity between noon and 2. Outside those hours, traffic “should be a breeze,” Google said.
Of course, holiday travel is seldom one-way. The return trip can be dicey, but there is a difference in opinion of when to go back home. Saturday traffic can be 40 percent worse than Sunday or the day after Thanksgiving, according to Google.
But Sunday’s no picnic either, says Waze’s spokeswoman Meghan Kelleher, who called Sunday the “absolute worst” day of the weekend. Either way, leave before 10 a.m. or wait until evening. Stay off the road during the middle part of either day.
Locally, traffic promises to be thickest on popular getaway routes such as Interstate 94 to the east and west, and I-35 to the north and south during peak times. Avoiding freeways won’t mean a faster or hassle-free trip. Alternate routes are just that. Savvy motorists know ways to get around known bottlenecks, but there are no undiscovered routes. Others know the secrets, too.
Whether traveling near or far, be sure to keep focused on driving, AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said.
“If you are the driver, designate a passenger as your official text messenger and navigator,” he said.
Airports will be busy, too. AAA estimates that 3.6 million people will fly over the course of the five-day holiday period.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tends not to be as busy as other airports at Thanksgiving, because many Minnesotans go away for MEA weekend in October, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan.