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Thanksgiving travel: The best — and worst — times to drive in the Boston area

Traffic on Storrow Drive on May 6, 2019. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Traffic on Storrow Drive on May 6, 2019. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here


It’s a clear but cold start to the holiday week. Need something to help push you through the next few days (or weeks)? Well, we have more than a little good news. Our seasonal joy newsletter, The Pick Me Up, returns this afternoon for its first annual holiday run! Sign up here to get a nugget of joy — plus holiday guides and general festiveness — in your inbox three days a week through the end of the year.

Planning your Thanksgiving travel plans? You’re not alone. AAA says 55 million people across the country are planning to travel over 50 miles for the holiday, making it the third-busiest Thanksgiving since they started tracking data in 2000. And the vast majority of those people will be on the roads. In Massachusetts, Transportation Secretary Jamie Tesler says the state is expecting traffic volumes “equal to or just exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

  • So, when should you not drive? We all know that Wednesday afternoon tends to be the worst travel time. But according to AAA, Tuesday afternoon is getting pretty busy, too. AAA spokeswoman Mary Maguire told WBUR’s Jon Cain that we should expect big backups on major interstates like I-93, I-95 and the Mass. Pike.
  • When should you drive? Thanksgiving itself will be the lightest travel day. But if you need to leave on Wednesday, AAA suggests before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. And if you’re on the roads Tuesday, the earlier the better.
  • Don’t forget: Maguire says to expect the same bottlenecks — but in reverse — on Sunday. If you’re returning home then, AAA says the best time to leave is before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

Brandeis University has canceled all classes this week after a bus carrying students back from a hockey game Saturday night crashed into a tree in Waltham, killing one and injuring over two dozen.

  • The sole victim has been identified as 25-year-old Vanessa Mark. Officials are continuing to investigate what caused the bus driver to go off the road and crash.

Not running: Gov. Charlie Baker may want the Republican Party to move on from Donald Trump, but it won’t be onto himself. The outgoing Massachusetts governor made it clear that he will not be running for president in 2024 during a WCVB interview Sunday.

  • While the news may be disappointing to some hosts of The View, Baker has been pretty clear about his intentions to take a break from public office for awhile now.
  • “If I was looking at this point in my career to continue to engage in public service, I think Lauren and I, and Karyn Polito and her husband, Steve, would have run for another term,” Baker said.

Eversource customers, now it’s our turn for big electricity rate hikes. The energy company announced Friday that it will seek to raise electricity rates by 43% for customers in Eastern Massachusetts, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. That means about a $47 spike in the average customer’s monthly electric bill (though the exact increase depends on things like weather and how much energy you’re using).

Heads up: The U.S. men’s national team — and former New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner! — will take to the field today for their first World Cup match. They’ll kick off against Wales at 2 p.m. in Group B, which also includes England and Iran. (Talk about some historic geopolitical rivalries.)

  • The game will air on FOX, Telemundo and Peacock. Tell your boss you have a dentist appointment. It’s just good patriotism.

P.S.— Legendary environmentalist, activist and author Bill McKibben will be at WBUR CitySpace tonight for a conversation with our senior environmental reporter, Miriam Wasser. (Name a more iconic duo!) You can grab both in-person and virtual tickets here.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Twitter Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.

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