People planning to travel by car during Golden Week, from the end of the month through the first week in May, should brace for a traffic nightmare — as usual.

The first half of Golden Week includes several working days, but the latter half has four straight holidays. According to forecasts by the Japan Highway Public Corp. and the Japan Road Traffic Information Center, traffic jams on expressways out of Tokyo will peak between May 2 and 4, while congestion coming back into the city will be heaviest between May 3 and 5.

Traffic on the Kanetsu Expressway leading to the Hanazono interchange in Gunma Prefecture is expected to be stalled for up to 55 km on the morning of May 2. The trip will probably take one hour and 20 minutes. On the afternoon of May 4, a traffic jam stretching up to 55 km is expected on Tokyo-bound lanes of the Tohoku Expressway through the Oya rest area in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture. It will take an estimated two hours and 20 minutes to get through that congestion, they said.

Traffic forecasts are based on information gathered over the last three years, so predictions for new expressways such as the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and the Tokyo Aqualine are not available. Traffic information will be distributed via leaflets and the Internet.

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