With a very busy Thanksgiving holiday travel weekend being predicted, the N.C. Department of Transportation has suspended most road and lane closures on interstates, U.S. and N.C. routes across the state from Tuesday afternoon through Monday morning, Nov. 26.
There will be some exceptions where construction conditions make it unsafe to open all lanes, such as where a bridge is being replaced, or lanes are being constructed or rebuilt and there is no paved and striped road surface.
Drivers can check on the status of the highways they plan to use by going to DriveNC.gov before they start their trip or once under way, having a passenger check the site. It provides road condition updates by route, county or region, updated 24 hours a day. Another option to get updates during daytime hours is to call 511, where operators can provide travel assistance.
Travelers need to be aware that there are a number of local roads that may have closures or lane restrictions that will remain in place through the extended weekend.
One highway where conditions should be much improved over recent holidays is I-85 in Vance and Warren counties. It has been undergoing a major rehabilitation project in recent years that put traffic in a single-lane pattern in each direction. However, the contractor finished putting pavement markings on a new roadway surface late last week, so two lanes are now open in both directions in time for the holiday weekend.
Drivers are urged to use caution through the weekend no matter where they are heading, and to obey the posted speed limit when traveling through work zones, even if no construction activity is taking place.
Here are some additional tips for safe driving during the holiday season:
• Leave early to get a head start, and travel at non-peak hours if possible, as Wednesday afternoon/evening and Sunday afternoon/evening will be the heaviest traffic congestion periods for most of the state, especially on interstates such as I-95, I-77, I-85 and I-40;
• Use alternative routes if possible to avoid traffic congestion;
• Allow extra time for your trip, regardless of the route you choose;
• Travel at times you are normally awake and take frequent breaks to avoid drowsy driving;
• Don’t do anything that would distract your driving, such as texting; and
• All drivers and passengers need to wear their seat belts, as the annual Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign is underway through Sunday, with law enforcement watching to make sure everyone is buckled up.