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Holiday travelers plan early departures

POSTED: July 3, 2013 12:07 a.m.

Most people traveling during the Fourth of July holiday are planning to get a head start, according to AAA.

“Nearly 41 million Americans plan to travel during the Independence Day holiday weekend. Although the travel numbers are about the same as last year’s, numerous surveys show more people plan to vacation this summer than last. It may just be that they are taking their trips at other times throughout the summer,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman.

Of the nearly 41 million people across the country who will be traveling over the holiday, 32 percent plan to start today. That’s more than any other day in the holiday travel period, which starts today and runs through Sunday, when even more people — 38 percent of those traveling — plan to make their return trips.

About 1.1 million Georgians will be traveling, with 963,435 hitting the roads and another 82,921 taking to the air. Other means of travel will be used by 69,412, AAA said.

For those on the roads, the Georgia Department of Transportation will be limiting construction-related lane closures from noon today until 5 a.m. Monday.

Holiday travel is expected to generate heavy congestion on many highways, especially Interstate 95 along the coast and Interstate 75 between Macon and metro Atlanta. Heavy traffic is expected in metro Atlanta due to both holiday travel and several major events downtown.

Motorists are urged to plan ahead, use alternate routes and allow extra time to reach destinations.

DOT reminds travelers that crews may be still be working near highways, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain. Also, emergency, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary.

“The Independence Day holiday tends to be the busiest summer holiday with more travelers than Memorial Day or Labor Day. About 6 million more people are expected to travel during the upcoming holiday than this past Memorial Day weekend,” said Brady.

The average distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be 613 miles, which is 110 miles less than last year’s average of 723 miles. The decline likely reflects the shorter holiday period.

Gas prices dropped prior to the busiest summer driving weekend. On average, pump prices in the Southeast fell 6 cents from last week.

“Although gas prices are higher than they were this time last year, the price trend is relatively the same with gas prices retreating before millions of Americans travel,” Brady said.

Georgia’s average price for a gallon of gas is $3.37, which is 7 cents less than last Sunday. That’s down from $3.46 a month ago, but up from $3.14 last year.

“Gas prices are not expected to deter travel,” Brady said.


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