CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A significant travel period on the West Virginia Turnpike begins Tuesday.
West Virginia Parkways Authority Executive Director Jeff Miller said they are predicting 715,000 vehicles will go through the 88-mile highway’s toll booths during the next six days as part of the Thanksgiving travel period.
Miller is predicting 130,000 transactions on Tuesday and up to 155,000 transactions on Wednesday and 160,000 transactions next Sunday, the busiest day of the period.
There’s a science to predicting the travel numbers. Miller said first they go back and look at the last five years.
“Then we look at the current year-to-date and where we are at in traffic in terms to the previous year,” Miller said.
Turnpike traffic counts are relatively flat since the covid pandemic. The Turnpike had 721,000 transactions during last year’s Thanksgiving travel period.
Miller said still the best bet on the Turnpike is to purchase a West Virginia E-ZPass which costs only $26.25 a year, without it, passenger cars pay $4.25 per plaza. He said those paying with cash need to have their money ready when they approach the toll plaza and fill up the right lanes first when possible.
“By simply having your cash transaction ready as you approach the toll booth and also getting in those right hand lanes to help disperse traffic really helps, every second counts,” Miller said.
The toll collecting division of the Parkways Authority breaks down the traffic hour by hour. There will be more workers at peak times including flaggers. Miller is urging motorists to be patient.
“Don’t be surprised that you may run into heavy traffic the day before Thanksgiving,” Miller said. “It’s a heavy travel day.”
The peak travel time on Wednesday will fall between noon and 6 p.m. It will begin a little earlier on Sunday, according to Miller.
“If you can leave a little earlier or a little later you can really avoid a lot of those peak traffic times,” he said.
The Parkway Authority’s Courtesy Patrol will be fully-staffed during the travel period.
Information about the E-ZPass program can be found at the Parkways Authority website. Drivers may also apply in person at the West Virginia Parkways Authority E-ZPass Customer Service Center, 3310 Piedmont Road, Charleston, West Virginia 25306, or at the Beckley Customer Service Center located at 12 Pikeview Drive, Beckley, West Virginia 25801.