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Thanksgiving travelers to see record-breaking traffic

Traffic (Gerhard Gellinger/Pixabay)

Motorists will hit the road in record numbers this Thanksgiving, according to AAA.

This year’s holiday travel is expected to be the second-busiest in two decades, with more than 49.3 million Americans planning to travel by automobile between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1 — a 2.9 percent increase in holiday traffic when compared with Thanksgiving 2018.

Nearly 6 million motorists in the mid-Atlantic region of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are expected to travel by car.

Wednesday drivers will see the heaviest traffic; trips could be four times as long as commuter traffic compounds holiday travel.

“This Thanksgiving we will see the most Americans carving time out to visit family and friends since 2005,” said Ragina C. Ali, public and government affairs manager for AAA mid-Atlantic.

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PennDOT predicts 3.6 million vehicles will travel by Pennsylvania Turnpike during the six-day period.

On Wednesday alone, PennDOT expects 735,000 vehicles. The heaviest traffic volumes will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Thursday, and Saturday will be the least traveled days.

Authorities say peak congestion is expected between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day.

Extra maintenance personnel will be patrolling the roadway, alongside state police.

This year is also the first rifle season opening the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Hunters are not permitted to park along the turnpike, but heavier traffic may occur on Friday and Sunday.

While much of the country is bracing for unpredictable and extreme weather, local meteorologists expect western Pennsylvania to stay dry and cool mid-week, with a chance of light snow and rain this weekend.

Motorists could see some small increases at the pump as Thanksgiving nears. The average price of gasoline across western Pennsylvania is 10 cents higher this week at $2.87 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s gas price report.

Pittsburgh International Airport also expects an increase in passengers this week.

Airport leaders advise anyone traveling by air to expect security and baggage delays.

The two quietest travel days are Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates the airport.

“People should allow plenty of extra time,” said Bryan Dietz, vice president of air service development for the authority.

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© 2019 the Beaver County Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.