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July Fourth holiday travel expected to be the busiest ever

You might want to consider packing some extra snacks if you’re road tripping for the July Fourth holiday.

AAA is projecting 70.9 million travelers will head at least 50 miles from home over the holiday travel period. AAA notes its forecast, for the first time, is for the entire holiday week plus the Saturday before — June 29 — and the Sunday after the holiday — July 7.

This year’s projected number of travelers is a 5% increase compared with 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019.

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” said Paula Twidale, AAA Travel senior vice president. “We anticipate this July Fourth week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

Motorists can expect higher traffic volume over the July 4th holiday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
AAA is projecting a 5% increase in travelers this Fourth of July compared to 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The agency is forecasting a record 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week — that’s an additional 2.8 million travelers compared with last year.

This year’s number also surpasses 2019, when 55.3 million people traveled by car over July Fourth week.

Gas prices

As of Tuesday, AAA reported the national average for gasoline was $3.50 and Pennsylvania’s was $3.65. A year ago, the national average was $3.53 and Pennsylvania’s was $3.64

Gas prices in the region as of Monday: Berks County, $3.61; Montgomery County, $3.58; Chester County, $3.57; Delaware County, $3.57; Lehigh County, $3.57; and Schuylkill County, $3.56.

Other modes

The number of air travelers is also expected to set a record as AAA projects 5.74 million people will fly to their July Fourth destinations. That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to last year and a 12% increase over 2019.

More than 4.6 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains, AAA says. That’s an increase of 9% compared with last year but shy of 2019’s figure of 4.79 million.

Travel times

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says the worst times to travel by car before and on July Fourth are between 2 and 7 p.m.

Drivers should hit the road in the morning, and travelers returning on July 8 should avoid rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7, as they return,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal.”

The worst and best times to travel, respectively:

• Wednesday: 2 to 7 p.m.; before noon.

• Thursday: 2 to 7 p.m.; before noon.

• Friday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; before 10 a.m.

• Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; before 10 a.m.

• Sunday: 2 to 8 p.m.; before 11 a.m.

• Monday: 1 to 5 p.m.; after 7 p.m.

PA Turnpike

The Pennsylvania Commission projects more than 5.62 million motorists will use the roadway from June 28 through Sunday. That’s 3% more than last year’s traffic tally during the same 10-day span.

Officials offered the following breakdown of total traffic:

• Wednesday: 670,000

• Thursday: 380,000

• Friday: 570,000

• Saturday: 510,000

• Sunday: 520,000

All roadway construction and maintenance projects have been suspended until Sunday at 11 p.m. to ensure as many lanes are open as possible, officials said.

State police will have increased patrols to respond to incidents and to be on the lookout for speeding and aggressive and distracted driving.

Weather

Weather shouldn’t have too much of an impact on your holiday plans in the region.

According to AccuWeather:

• Wednesday: Intervals of clouds and sun; high of 86.

• Thursday: Humid with periods of clouds and sunshine; a thunderstorm on the prowl in the afternoon; high of 88.

• Friday: More clouds than sun; high of 90.

• Saturday: More clouds than sun, hot and very humid with a heavy thunderstorm; high of 91.

• Sunday: Mostly sunny and less humid; high of 90.

• Monday: Hot with clouds to start, then sunshine returns; high of 93.


Source: Berkshire mont

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