HANOVER, Md. – With Governor Larry Hogan lifting Maryland’s pandemic-related State of Emergency on July 1, travelers are expected to enjoy long-awaited trips and family gatherings over this Fourth of July holiday weekend. With a busy weekend ahead, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) urges everyone to travel with safety, awareness and courtesy as the highest priorities.
“Marylanders accomplished so much together in the fight against COVID-19, and this Independence Day will have special meaning as the State of Emergency comes to a close,” MDOT Secretary Gregory Slater said. “As we celebrate this milestone, I urge everyone to maintain the sense of community we’ve shared over the past year.
Drive safely. Slow down. Buckle up. Stay alert. Allow plenty of time to travel. Let’s keep working as one Maryland and make sure our families and our neighbors have the best Fourth of July ever.”
High traffic volumes are expected from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland this weekend. Travelers should anticipate congestion beginning Thursday, July 1, along routes including US 50 to Ocean City, I-70 and I-68 toward Western Maryland and I-95 north toward Delaware. Volumes also expected to be heavy Saturday and Sunday, July 3-4, and delays are likely Monday, July 5, as travelers return home.
MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) will suspend major lane closures for non-emergency roadwork from 5 a.m. Friday, July 2 through 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 7. Emergency patrols will be on duty to assist disabled vehicles and clear incidents. Go to roads.maryland.gov for real-time traffic information. MDOT SHA urges all drivers to follow these tips:
• Buckle up. It’s the law. Make sure all passengers are buckled up.
• Slow down. Observe all posted speed limits.
• Don’t drive impaired. Never drink and drive. If needed, designate a sober driver or use a taxi or ride service.
• Pay attention. Avoid distractions such as cellphones. Don’t text and drive.
• Watch for pedestrians. At large gatherings, there may be more people walking or riding bicycles.
• Be patient. Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.
• Be prepared. In an emergency, drivers with cellphones can dial #77 for Maryland State Police.
• Move over. Motorists are required to move over when approaching an emergency, service vehicle or tow truck with red, yellow or amber flashing lights. If you can’t move over, slow down.
The Bay Bridge and the US 50 corridor are expected to be busy throughout the weekend. Motorists should expect heavy eastbound traffic Friday, July 2, and Saturday, July 3, with the heaviest westbound volumes Sunday, July 4, and Monday, July 5. The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this weekend include:
• Friday, July 2 – before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
• Saturday, July 3 – before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
• Sunday, July 4 – before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
• Monday, July 5 – before 6 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is reminding drivers to stay on US 50 on BOTH sides of the Bay Bridge to keep local roadways open for first responders and residents. Weather and traffic volumes permitting, the MDTA will use two-way operations to help alleviate eastbound delays at the bridge. As a reminder, two-way operations are prohibited during bridge wind warnings/restrictions, fog or times of precipitation.
For 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic information call 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or visit baybridge.com. For real-time updates on major incidents follow twitter.com/TheMDTA and facebook.com/TheMDTA. You also can sign up for email/text alerts at https://bit.ly/2Dh9EZn.
All-electronic (cashless) tolling is permanent statewide. Tolls are collected through E-ZPass, Video Tolling and the newest way to pay for Maryland tolls, Pay-By-Plate. With Pay-By-Plate, tolls are billed to the driver’s registered credit card as they use Maryland toll facilities, with no need for a transponder or pre-paid toll deposit. E-ZPass remains the most cost-effective way to travel toll roads in Maryland, saving drivers up to 77% versus the higher rates and additional paperwork that come with Video Tolls. Enroll in E-ZPass or sign up for Pay-By-Plate at DriveEzMD.com.
MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office will share safety messages on social media throughout the weekend as part of its “Be The Driver…” campaign, and is reminding drivers that law enforcement will be out in force to stop suspected impaired drivers. In addition to risking injury or death for themselves and others, those driving under the influence risk arrest, jail time, legal costs and fines.
During the pandemic, initial police reports indicate speed, impairment and lower seat belt use as the most common contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities. Last year, 574 fatalities occurred on Maryland roadways, an increase of 6.4% compared to 2019 even though traffic volumes were down as much as 50% at the height of COVID-19. In recent weeks, volumes statewide have returned to about 90% of pre-pandemic levels.
Learn more about the MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.
Passenger traffic increasing at BWI; Airport still under federal mask mandate
Passenger traffic is expected to increase this weekend at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and travelers should allow plenty of time for check-in. Air travel has been building in recent weeks, and Thursday, June 24, was the busiest day since the beginning of the pandemic with 27,107 departing passengers.
Federal regulations continue to require face coverings or masks inside airport terminals and on commercial aircraft. About 85% of airport food and retail concessions are now open at BWI Marshall, and the airport reopened long-term parking in recent months.
BWI Marshall remains focused on safe travel. Health and safety initiatives include enhanced cleaning and sanitation; hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the terminal; and protective barriers at security checkpoints, ticket counters and information desks. Health information is provided on information displays and overhead announcements. For details, go to https://www.BWIairport.com/COVID19.
Transit service on modified schedule July 5; face coverings still required
MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) services will operate on normal schedules for July 1-4, and on a modified schedule Monday, July 5, for the official Fourth of July holiday. On July 5, CityLink and LocalLink buses, Light RailLink and Metro SubwayLink will operate on the Sunday/Holiday schedule, and Commuter Bus will operate Bus Route 201, running odd numbered trips on the Weekend/Holiday schedule.
MARC Train will not operate service on the Camden and Brunswick Lines July 5. The Penn Line will operate on a Saturday schedule. MobilityLink will not operate subscription rides July 5. Customers must call the MobilityLink Call Center at 410-764-8181 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reschedule July 5 rides.
Under the continuing federal regulation, all riders using public transit including MARC Train, MTA local bus, light rail, metro subway, commuter bus and MobilityLink service are required to wear face coverings. All riders – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated – must keep the face covering on for the entire duration of the trip.
MDOT wishes everyone traveling this holiday weekend a safe and happy Fourth of July.