CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Turnpike General Manager Greg Barr is predicting a modest increase in overall transactions on the toll road during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
The 2016 period from Wednesday to Sunday produced 780,000 transactions on the 88-mile highway through southern West Virginia. This year should be a little better, Barr said.
“We’re looking at maybe a one to two percent increase. It’s not a huge increase but it is an upward tick,” Barr said.
Gasoline prices are up only about 10 percent from last year and the weather is supposed to be good, Barr said.
“All of those things taken together and it should be a pretty busy period,” he said.
Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and Sunday, usually have similar transactions for a 24-hour period but Barr said they come at different times. He said Wednesday’s load is spread out while the bulk of Sunday’s return traffic is crammed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“It’s (Sunday) going to be some of the most congested, crowded, situations you’ve ever found yourself in anywhere in the country on the roads because everyone is headed home and everyone meets about the same time on the roads on Sunday,” Barr said.
It’s anticipated the Turnpike will have to use its tandem toll booths Sunday.
“When we get over 2,000 cars an hour coming through the toll plazas that equates to 400 transactions per lane, per hour,” Barr said. “That’s about as much as a toll collector can process.”
The navigation site, WAZE, predicts the worst travel times nationwide this holiday season through Thanksgiving Day are:
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday