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Fourth of July traffic could be bad for the next several days

Traffic on a morning in October 2016, heading west seen from Lowell Avenue in Newton.
Traffic on a morning in October 2016, heading west seen from Lowell Avenue in Newton.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

They’re calling it “Terrible Tuesday.”

Travel experts are expecting the worst traffic for the Fourth of July holiday to hit the roads Tuesday afternoon, as a recordbreaking 46.9 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from their homes, according to AAA Northeast.

In the Boston area, the worst traffic will be on the roads between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., with travel times expected to be 1.8 times longer than normal during that stretch, said AAA spokesman Drew Carlson.

Traveling on the Fourth of July could actually be better.

“We’re advising people to either leave really super-late tonight or bright and early tomorrow morning,” Carlson said Tuesday.

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Independence Day traffic is expected to be at its highest since 2001, with a 5.1 percent increase compared to last year’s numbers, according to AAA.

There are also a record number of travelers coming from Massachusetts, with 1.25 million of the 46.9 million traveling Americans coming from the Bay State. Nearly 1.1 million of those Massachusetts travelers are expected to travel by car.

Mary Maguire, a spokeswoman for AAA, said there will likely be an extra boost in traffic due to the relatively low gas prices this week. Gas prices were down three cents this week, she said.

Google Maps and Google News Lab used data from 2017 to create their own graph of the best and worst times to travel for July 4.

Leaving on Wednesday and want to beat the traffic in Boston? Better fire up the coffeemaker. Google Maps says the traffic will be quietest at around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

They predict the worst time to travel is at noon Wednesday.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is taking some steps to attempt to alleviate traffic on state roads.

Starting at noon Tuesday, all scheduled construction activities will be paused until the start of business on Thursday. The HOV lane on Interstate 93 between Quincy and Boston will also be closed Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday.

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MBTA service will be free after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, which will be helpful to people going to the festivities on the Charles River Esplanade.

“The best advice we can give anyone traveling for the Fourth is plan ahead,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in a statement. “We want everyone to have an easy trip and a safe trip and encourage people to be patient with each other as many people will be moving around in an effort to attend events and to enjoy some vacation time.”

Carlson said traffic is also expected to be bad on Sunday when the majority of travelers will return home after a weekend or a full week away.

“We’re thinking that Sunday morning’s going to be pretty busy, so we’re just saying, again, leave super early, or stay and enjoy the beach a little longer,” he said.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.