Idahoans Slowed Thanksgiving Travel — Except In Eastern Idaho

Dec 8, 2020

Thanksgiving Day highway and interstate traffic volumes were down considerably compared to 2019 in southwest, south central and northern Idaho, according to Idaho Transportation Department data.

Vehicle counters near Idaho’s borders showed approximately 20% fewer cars on I-90 in northern Idaho and about 8% less traffic on I-84 near the Oregon border compared to a year ago.

Credit Chris Chabot/ Commons

Eastern Idaho was a different story. Traffic headed south to Utah jumped 23% on I-84 near the border, and nearly 5% on I-15. Thanksgiving Day vehicle counts on state highways in eastern Idaho were also up compared to a year ago.

One exception to that was state highway 91 in the southeast corner of the state, where total traffic decreased from a year ago. In-town traffic volumes in Idaho Falls and Pocatello also dropped Thanksgiving Day. Idaho Falls traffic volume on Sunnyside Rd on the south end of town rose significantly Friday and Saturday compared to a year earlier.

Many Idaho hospitals are overwhelmed and on the cusp of rationing care according to medical professionals — all before the full impact the Thanksgiving holiday will have on the spread of COVID-19 is known.

Data does suggest plenty of people ignored CDC recommendations against traveling over the holiday, though it is not definitive; there is obviously no way to know destination or motive for travel. Perhaps some folks continued to celebrate within their household but drove to a different location to do it.

Transportation department spokesman Jake Melder said the overall Thanksgiving traffic volumes — lower overall in southwest, south-central and northern Idaho, and higher in eastern Idaho — mirror current non-holiday traffic trends.

Thanksgiving Day vehicle counts (data provided by Idaho Department of Transportation, traffic counts include both directions of travel):

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