Despite high costs, holiday travel up 4%

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Local,Transportation,Liz Essley
Examiner Archives
  • Planes, trains and automobiles -- no escaping D.C. holiday travel crowds (12-22-10)
  • More than 1 million Washingtonians will take to the road and air starting this weekend, getting an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts.

    Thanksgiving travel will be up 4 percent over last year in the region and nationwide, despite a 20 percent increase in the price of airline tickets and a 50-cent-per-gallon increase in gas prices, AAA reported. Six of every 10 travelers told the travel group that the economy wouldn't derail their holiday plans.

    "This year, family, friends and food will triumph over frugality," AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend said.

    Metro closings
    The Metro station at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will be closed this weekend for track work. Fliers can take shuttles to the airport.
    -Downtown Express: Nonstop service from Metro Center (12th and G streets)
    -Airport Route 1: From King Street Metro
    -Airport Route 2: From Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro

    That's not to say that the cost and stress of holiday travel is for everyone. Sharon Dunwoody, an airline passenger traveling through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for business Thursday, said she plans to stay home for Thanksgiving.

    "It makes for a much better holiday. I think traveling is just an extra debit when you have time off," she said. "I am traveling less because of the cost of airline tickets these days."

    One of every five Washington-area residents will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, crowding trains and planes over the weekend and roads on Wednesday and Thursday, Townsend said.

    Officials are urging drivers to plan ahead and avoid the most congested travel times by leaving before 6 a.m. or after 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.

    Some of the most congested highways, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, will be Interstates 95, 495, 81 and 66.

    In Maryland, the State Highway Administration expects 772,000 drivers on Interstate 95 at the Fort McHenry Tunnel and 466,000 cars to cross the Bay Bridge between Tuesday and Sunday.

    Holiday rush begins Friday and runs through Nov. 28 at Reagan and Washington Dulles International Airport, with peak times in the early morning and later afternoon, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.

    The authority advises travelers to arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

    Travelers flying out of Reagan this weekend face an additional snag: Metro is closing its airport station for track work.

    lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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