Barr warns of increased Turnpike traffic related to Thanksgiving

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With thousands of motorists expected on the West Virginia Turnpike because of Thanksgiving, West Virginia Parkways General Manager Greg Barr says people should leave for their destinations sooner than expected.

“We would encourage people to get started at 6 a.m. (on Wednesday.) If you can do it, don’t travel on Sunday,” he said. “It’s the busiest travel day for the year for airports, cars and trains. Try to come back on Monday.”

Barr’s warning on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” came ahead of two of the busiest travel days of the year; he said toll workers on the Turnpike will handle a combined 350,000 transactions on Wednesday and Sunday.

“A normal day is almost 90,000 transactions. It’s almost twice what we usually have,” he said. “We’ll have all the lanes open at all times. All lanes take EZPass. If you have an EZPass transponder, you can go through any of the lanes, and it will process your transaction without you having to stop.”

This is this first Thanksgiving since tolls increased in January; rates for passenger vehicles jumped from $2 to $4 at the start of this year.

Traffic over the summer caused backups at toll plazas. Barr connected the issue to the increase in tolls and change for motorists, as only cash is accepted. He said on MetroNews “Talkline” an update to the system should ease congestion in the future.

“We’re in the process of updating ours again, and we’ve asked our consultants to build in the provision to be able to accept credit cards and other more technologically advanced payment systems,” he said.