Georgia DOT suspends lane closures, identifies best, worst travel times for Memorial Day Weekend
Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023
ATLANTA – To allow for an anticipated increase in Memorial Day weekend traffic congestion, the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) announced today the suspension of lane closures on Georgia interstates and state routes beginning Friday, May 26 at 12 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday, May 30. While construction-related lane closures will be suspended, the department reminds travelers to exercise caution as crews may still work near highways, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain in place. In addition, incident management or emergency, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary at any time on any route.
To help motorists plan the best and worst times to travel this weekend, Georgia DOT is sharing its traffic forecasts and best practices while traveling over the Memorial Day weekend holiday for the metro Atlanta area below. Motorists should plan for heavier traffic around popular tourist attractions and popular areas for Memorial Day Weekend including Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, Six Flags, Zoo Atlanta, and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
The predictions are based on travel data from 2019, 2021, and 2022:
Metro Atlanta interstates:
- Historical travel patterns predict a boost in congestion on metro Atlanta interstates beginning the afternoon of Thursday, May 25.
- Metro Atlanta interstates are predicted to see heavy and worse-than-normal traffic on Friday, May 26, with an increase of congestion starting as early as 12pm.
- Motorists can expect to add approximately 30-45 minutes to their travel time.
- Saturday, May 27, is expected to have afternoon congestion on downtown interstates.
- Sunday, May 28 and Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day) are predicted to have lighter than usual traffic.
- On Tuesday, May 30, traffic is expected to increase to normal weekday commute travel times with a slightly staggered morning rush as motorists are later getting back on the interstate.
Metro Atlanta surface streets:
- Heavy traffic is predicted for Wednesday afternoon and is expected to be the heaviest on Friday, May 26.
- Light to normal traffic is predicted for Monday, May 29.
Below are changes to the schedule that are assessed and based on historical data and traffic trends. The orange directions below indicate a change from the usual schedule.
Travel data from 2022 has shown the following traffic trends for major interstates outside of the metro Atlanta area:
- I-20 eastbound congestion entering metro Atlanta; westbound congestion exiting the city towards Alabama.
- I-75 is predicted to have heavy congestion southbound and northbound coming out of Atlanta in Stockbridge.
- I-24 eastbound congestion in Northwest Georgia (near Chattanooga)
- I-16 westbound congestion exiting Savannah and I-16 eastbound congestion entering Savannah
Listed below are safe driving tips that all travelers should know while traveling this holiday weekend:
Utilize Georgia DOT HERO/CHAMP support
- The Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program and the Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program (CHAMP) are complimentary services offered by Georgia DOT covering interstates throughout Georgia (except I-59 and I-24). Motorists can dial 511 to request CHAMP or HERO assistance, or other first responder assistance during overnight hours outside of CHAMP and HERO active patrol.
- CHAMP monitors interstates outside of metro Atlanta. HERO monitors interstates in metro Atlanta.
- The HERO program is an integral part of a comprehensive effort to safely and efficiently keep traffic moving.
- Both programs assist stranded motorists, change tires, maintain traffic flow, and identify several maintenance issues, among others.
Move over for first responders
- Traffic-related incidents are a leading cause of death for law enforcement officers. Let’s all do our part to ensure highway safety. Drive alert, eliminate distractions, and stay focused on the road.
- Georgia’s Move-Over law requires drivers to mover one lane, if possible, if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the highway.
- Vehicles included in the law include all first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO and CHAMP units, and wreckers tending to an accident.
If traffic is too heavy to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit instead AND to be prepared to stop.
Stay in your car
- Motorists should avoid getting out of their vehicles if they are stopped on interstate highways. Instead, dial 511 and request assistance. Emergency assistance will provide instructional communication on what drivers and passengers should do.
- An increase of out-of-town drivers is expected this Memorial Day Weekend. Use caution for unfamiliar drivers on the roads.
- Be alert and aware. Slow down and approach with caution if you see a car with its hazards on.
- Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you in case they come to an abrupt stop.
- Don’t drive distracted. Stay focused on the road for any sudden incidents.
Drive Alert Arrive Alive
- Shut off or silence mobile devices to avoid the temptation to text or use apps while driving.
- Drivers, put down the phone. If you must use your phone, do it with hands-free technology.
- Program your GPS, radio station, podcast, or audio book before driving.
- Never drive impaired or drowsy.
- Always wear a seatbelt, no matter how far you drive. And make sure your passengers buckle up too.
- Always watch for pedestrians and slowdown in areas with heavy foot traffic.
Learn more about Drive Alert Arrive Alive and the actions you can take to improve road safety. Visit https://www.dot.ga.gov/GDOT/
Plan with 511:
- Before you hit the road, visit 511ga.org and download the free 511 Georgia app for turn-by-turn navigation, estimated travel times, and real-time travel speeds.
- Check travel forecasts or real-time road conditions on 511GA to prepare for a safe arrival at the destination.
- Need to use 511 Georgia hands-free? Follow the law, select Drive Mode to receive audio alerts, and call 511 from a hands-free device.
- Plan with My511 – Create and save routes and cameras.
- Save your Memorial Day Weekend destination route and use it in our step-by-step navigation tool.
- As you are traveling, be alerted to closures, construction, and incidents in real-time by activating My511 alerts.
- Save and view traffic cameras along your drive to see current events on the road.
- Have questions about travel times? Call 511 to speak to a live operator 24/7/365.
Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT and its nearly 4,000 employees are committed to delivering a transportation system focused on innovation, safety, sustainability and mobility. The Department’s vision is to boost Georgia’s competitiveness through leadership in transportation.