Tough trip by bus or car

Roads crowded and wet, but some find BWI easier to deal with

November 23, 2006|By Brent Jones and Phillip McGowan | Brent Jones and Phillip McGowan,SUN REPORTERS

Marylanders heading off to visit loved ones encountered heavy, but not unbearable, traffic on most state roadways -- and weather that left a lot to be desired as heavy rain made for a soggy Thanksgiving Eve.

During the evening rush, traffic on the Bay Bridge was especially heavy because of several minor accidents and the inability of officials to open a third lane for eastbound traffic, said Lindsay Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority.

And cars were backed up about two miles south into Maryland last night from the Delaware toll plaza on Interstate 95 -- a more common traffic bottleneck.

More than 724,000 Marylanders were expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic -- most of them taking to the highways.

But others, taking to the skies, found Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport easier to navigate and far less crowded than they had expected on a day that is traditionally one of the busiest flying days of the year.

John Cahill, 49, a frequent business flier to the Baltimore area, arrived 90 minutes before his flight home to Dallas -- about double his normal preparation time. But he got through the check-in line so fast, he had time to read the paper in late morning before heading to his gate.

"There was no need to go early," Cahill said.

Eldon and Dorothy Lanning of Spencerville expected endless delays getting to Moline, Ill., to see their daughter. But then they walked into the terminal.

"There was nobody there," said Dorothy Lanning, 67.

"And there were five clerks at the counter," said her 68-year-old husband.

At the Greyhound bus station south of downtown Baltimore, there were some inconveniences.

Tommi Price waited in line with daughter Taylor, 15, for a midafternoon bus to Philadelphia. With a poundcake -- her specialty, she said -- in hand, Price had tickets courtesy of her brother-in-law but considered taking a train instead when the bus was 30 minutes late.

When it finally arrived, only a handful of passengers were allowed to board, forcing the rest, Price included, to wait at least 90 minutes for the next bus.

Price chatted with fellow passenger Sarah Osborne, who pressed her 5-month-old son against her shoulder, about what they say is Greyhound's first-come, first-served policy. Then, to pass the time, they discussed macaroni-and-cheese recipes.

"They should have more buses for people headed to Philly," said Price, who was to meet 50 family members at her mother's house.

At Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station, Malvilyn Statham of Essex waited alongside Calvin, her husband of 42 years, for a train to New York City. Statham said her cousins get together for a Thanksgiving celebration every year at the same house.

Statham, a Baltimore County schools employee, jumped up when she heard her train announced.

Relatives are anticipating her arrival. "They're waiting for me to make the potato salad," she said.

brent.jones@baltsun.com phillip.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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