Heavy traffic expected Wednesday ahead of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving travel is underway and the heaviest travel time in the Chicago area is from noon – 8 p.m. Wednesday. 

AAA predicts traffic volume will reach pre-pandemic levels. On the Illinois Tollways, 1.8 million vehicles will be on the road Wednesday, compared to an average 1.6 million.


People leave work early, combined with holiday travelers increase the number of cars on area roadways. People are driving in spite of higher gas prices. The national average price for gas is $3.39 per gallon. 

"To ensure safe travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Illinois Tollway is reminding our customers to be prepared before driving," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez.

The best time to drive on Thanksgiving Day is before 11am. Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. will be one of the worst times to drive. 

From Wednesday through Sunday, 9 million vehicles will travel the Illinois Tollway system. 

The Chicago Department of Aviation is expecting a busy week at both O’Hare and Midway airports. The agency anticipates more than 1.2 million passengers traveling through O’Hare between Tuesday and this coming Monday — a 155% jump from this time last year.

Midway is expected to welcome 288,000 passengers during the same period, which is 102% more than last year.

"We are excited to welcome travelers to Chicago’s airports and help make it possible for families to gather for this holiday week," Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said in a statement. "There is no greater priority for us than providing a safe, secure and reassuring environment for travelers and employees alike."

The busiest day of travel at both airports is expected to be Sunday, but there will also be a significant number of passengers traveling on Wednesday.

The Aviation Department recommends arriving earlier because of added security measures. To help ease congestion, it is recommended to avoid curb drop-offs and think about taking public transportation.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.