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Free Coffee! Free Tolls! And More Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Here are some tips from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to make your Thanksgiving travel a little easier.

Will you be driving on Thanksgiving night? If so, you can snag a free cup of joe courtesy of the state. And if you're hitting the Turnpike on Wednesday afternoon, you can also get on I-90 (for one hour) without having to pay the toll.

Free coffee will be served at all 18 Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) service plazas between 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23, courtesy of McDonalds, Burger King and Gulf.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Rock Assurance will sponsor free tolls at the Allston-Brighton interchange on I-90 from 3 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21. 

Thanksgiving holiday traffic is expected to be at its peak on Tuesday, Nov. 20, Wednesday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 25, according to MassDOT. To avoid delays on busy days, drivers should consider hitting the road during the early morning or after 8 p.m.

The worst heavy traffic and busiest toll plazas are expected at I-90's Exit 9, which connects to I-84 on the way to Connecticut and New York, according to MassDOT. Congestion is also expected at the I-95 and I-495 Turnpike interchanges along with I-495 and I-93 northbound leading into New Hampshire.

Beginning Tuesday, additional toll collectors and emergency service personnel will be working on the Mass. Turnpike to assist traffic flow. 

Before leaving, you can check MassDOT's online traffic camera webpage to view live traffic cameras throughout the highway system. The 511 traffic alert system will include messages to alert customers to traffic advisories throughout the holiday weekend.

MassDOT will suspend highway construction projects on major roadways across the state from Wednesday the through normal start of business on Monday, Nov. 26. 

MBTA Holiday Schedule

On Wednesday, the MBTA will operate regular weekday service. To support high ridership, the MBTA will add additional service on all subway lines and the Silver Line for customers going to Logan Airport. Commuter boat service will operate on a modified schedule.

On Thanksgiving, the MBTA will operate on a Sunday schedule. There will be no service on the Fairmount, Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and Needham Commuter Rail lines. Commuter boat service will not operate.

On Friday, Nov. 23, the MBTA will operate regular weekday service.

Beginning Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and throughout the weekend, the MBTA will operate additional off-peak service traveling to and from Logan Airport.  

Customers traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday are encouraged to add value to their CharlieCard in advance and purchase round trip tickets for commuter rail trips. 

More details about the MBTA service schedule around the Thanksgiving holiday can be found on the MBTA website.

Logan Airport

Last year, some 868,000 passengers used Boston Logan Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday period and Massport estimates a 1 percent increase this year.

If you're flying for the holiday, Massport encourages passengers to arrive at Logan a minimum of two-and-a-half hours before a domestic flight and three hours for an international departure. Travelers can check www.flylogan.com for updated airline and airport information.

"Ample parking" will be available at Loga, according to Massport. If you're not driving to the airport, alternatives include:

  • Logan Express: Bus service every half hour between Logan Airport and Woburn, Braintree and Framingham, and hourly service between Logan and Peabody. Buses will be added to meet the anticipated increase in demand and maintain the posted schedule. Kids under 12 ride free.
  • MBTA Blue and Silver Line Service: The MBTA Silver Line provides service between South Station and Logan's terminals every 10 minutes. Outbound service from Logan Airport to the South Boston Seaport District and South Station is free. The MBTA Blue Line provides subway service between Boston and Airport Station. Massport provides free shuttle service to and from all terminals.
  • Water Transportation: Several water taxi companies provide on-call service to points throughout Downtown Boston from the Logan dock.
  • Taxi Service: Because of heavy holiday travel, Massport said that travelers may experience longer than normal waits for taxi service departing Logan Airport, especially during peak periods immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday. Taxis are available at the arrival level of all terminals.

Massport recommends people meeting arriving passengers use Logan’s cell phone waiting lot to help reduce roadway and curb-side congestion. The lot is open 24 hours a day and is located minutes from the terminals at the intersection of Hotel Drive and Service Road, near the airport Gulf Station.  Drivers are asked to stay no longer than 30 minutes and to wait with their vehicles.

Information from MassDOT and Massport press releases were used in this report.

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