The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Holiday traffic could top 10-year record
BY SCOTT SHENK
Expect an explosion of traffic this July 4 holiday.
AAA predicts that highway traffic this year could top all other Independence Day holiday stretches during the past decade.
The travel club projects that 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or further between Tuesday and Sunday, July 8. That is a 4.9 percent increase over last year.
The vast majority of holiday travelers, 35.5 million, will be driving.
Most travelers, 25 percent, planned to leave Friday, followed by Tuesday, when 19 percent plan to leave for the holiday.
“AAA’s projection for a decade high number of Independence Day travelers is being fed by Americans’ appetite for travel, a mid-week holiday and lower gas prices,” Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA’s travel services, said in a release. “This is the second holiday this year where travelers indicated a determination to travel while economizing by actively seeking value-added travel options and activities.”
Gas prices are still high compared to past years—in early July 2010, the average price for a gallon of regular in Virginia was $2.61.
But last July 4 and earlier this year, gas prices were hovering in the mid $3 range.
Recently, however, prices have plummeted from that same range.
Locally in the past month, the cost of a gallon of regular has dropped some 30 cents, falling below $3 at some stations. And analysts predict that prices could fall further.
While more people will likely be traveling this July 4, AAA reports that they will spend less. The travel club says travelers will stay with family, avoid paying for entertainment and shop less.
In an effort to help stem congestion on the roads, the Virginia Department of Transportation will lift lane closures in work zones Tuesday through Thursday.
VDOT also has some electronic tools aimed at helping drivers.
The department has electronic signs along the interstates drivers can use to learn what is happening ahead of them.
VDOT also offers 511, which updates traffic in real time. There are three ways to use 511: online (511virginia.org); a free phone app; or by dialing 511.
AAA also has free apps to help map routes and find the best gas prices.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436