Expect Heavy Traffic Through the Holiday Season, and Plan Ahead

Last Updated on January 2, 2020 12:28 pm

RALEIGH – Construction work that would require lane closures along major highways will be suspended by the N.C. Department of Transportation from Friday, Dec. 20 to Thursday, Jan. 2 to accommodate travelers for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

There will be some locations where the type of project or construction conditions make it unsafe to open all lanes on interstates, U.S. and major N.C. highways. That includes where a bridge is being replaced, or where lanes are blocked off with concrete barriers so drivers must still be alert for any lane closure signs.

With traditional heavy traffic expected over the nearly two-week period, travelers need to plan ahead. Before starting their trip, drivers can check to see if there are any issues with their preferred route. Once underway, a passenger in the vehicle can check the same site for updates or call 511 for the information between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1.

Ideally, drivers can leave early to get a head start and be on the road at non-peak hours. The weekends before Christmas and New Year’s Day, as well as Dec. 24, will see the heaviest traffic congestion periods for most of the state, especially on interstates such as I-95, I-77, I-85, I-40 and I-26. Drivers should anticipate needing extra time to reach their destination and consider using an alternative route if possible.

Because of the expected heavy volume, drivers need to avoid distracted driving situations such as texting or using a cellphone so they are paying close attention to the road. And all occupants of a vehicle must be wearing a seat belt.

Expect a heavy law enforcement presence on the roadways, as the Governor’s Highway Safety Program annual Holiday “Booze It & Lose It” campaign is already under way. Through January 5, law enforcement agencies in all 100 North Carolina counties will conduct enhanced patrols to assist travelers, catch drunk drivers and enforce other traffic laws.

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on social media.

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