Fourth of July travelers gear up for long holiday weekend

(Photo: Mike Conneen)

The rush to get out of town for the Fourth of July weekend has begun, with over 250,000 Washingtonians expected to hit the road.

In a shift in traveler tendencies, though, AAA says that fewer locals will drive, despite the recent drop in gas prices. The organization says that many travelers are seeing flying as a more viable option.

Local air travel is up 22 percent, according to AAA, despite airfares going up by 13 percent.

The Maryland Transportation Authority says choosing your travel time wisely can help avoid holiday traffic delays when driving through the state, especially if you're heading to the Eastern Shore or Ocean City.

For those looking to cross the Bay Bridge, the transportation authority says the best times to travel are Friday before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m., Saturday before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m., and Sunday before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

AAA says that 52 percent of local travelers plan to spend part of the holiday weekend at the beach or waterfront.

Thousands are expected, as always, to pack the National Mall for the annual parade and fireworks display.

Around noon, the travel time from DCA to Annapolis was 45 minutes with a few backups but still moving well.

Drivers got from DCA to Bay Bridge toll plaza in 50 minutes around 1 p.m. Around 3:30 p.m., the drive from DCA to Rehoboth takes you about 3.5 hours.