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Fourth of July congestion expected to double weekday commute times

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Leave early or prepare for some serious congestion on Tuesday

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Even with the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday, a record number of drivers are still expected to hit the road this week. According to a report from AAA and transportation analyst Inrix, nearly 47 million Americans will drive between July 3 and July 8 with many heading to, from, and through the city of Chicago.

The heaviest congestion is expected for July 3 between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. when commuters leaving work coincide with the surge of holiday road-trippers.

“Tuesday afternoon will hands down be the worst time to be on the road,” stressed Inrix general manager Scott Sedlik in a statement. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Chicago, which ranked as eighth worst on the AAA’s list of 10 congested metropolitan areas, is expected to face a “delay multiplier” of 1.7x. In other words, trips will take nearly twice as long compared to a typical Wednesday rush hour.

Tuesday afternoon is expected to be the worst time to travel in major cities across the country.

The number of Americans expected taking airways during the holiday period is also up 7.9 percent over last year. In addition to allowing extra time to get to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, air travelers should stay vigilant and brace for the possibility of flight delays.

For Chicagoans staying in town for the holiday, the CTA will run a Sunday schedule on the Fourth but with increased bus and train service near Navy Pier for Wednesday’s lakefront fireworks display. The CTA will prohibit bikes on trains on the July 4 for added rider capacity and recommends passengers buy their fares in advance to skip potentially long lines.

For those insisting on driving to the festivities, it’s best to get downtown early as Lake Shore Drive grinds to a standstill during the 9:30 p.m. pyrotechnic show.