CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago could see a significant increase in traffic delays over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association.
AAA said an estimated 50.9 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles away from home between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26, with 45.5 million of those driving to their destination. That would be the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005.
With airfare down 23 percent from last year, travelers will have the cheapest average flights for Thanksgiving since 2013, and a growth of 5 percent in air travel over last year, with 3.95 million travelers flying for the holiday.
Getting to the airport could be a big headache, though, with AAA estimating major delays on I-90 and I-190 to O’Hare International Airport. Experts estimated three times the normal wait on those roads. The worst time to drive will be Tuesday evening, between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Rich Olsen, for one, will be staying home for the holiday.
“I don’t want to become part of that circus,” he said.
Olsen said he deals with enough traffic day-to-day for work.
“I’ve got clients all over the city, and I travel by air a lot,” he said while making a pit stop around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. “It’s a parking lot even at this time. As early as we were out today, you’ll see the interstates backed up.”
Almost 2.7 million people in Illinois and another 1.1 million from Indiana were expected to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, up about 3 percent from last year.
Driving also will cost more in the Chicago area, as gas prices also are up ahead of the holiday. Prices at the pump have risen about 3 cents per gallon over the last week, and as of Thursday morning were about 70 cents higher than one year ago.