One holiday jam is guaranteed

Staff WriterNovember 24, 2009 

Rising unemployment and higher gas prices are nothing to be thankful for, but more North Carolinians are expected to pack their cars for a Thanksgiving holiday drive this year.

The AAA Carolinas motor club estimates that nearly 1million North Carolinians plan holiday road trips, a 3.1percent increase from last year.

Air travel will be down an estimated 6.6 percent, with 270,000 travelers expected to pass through Raleigh-Durham International Airport over the 11-day period ending Monday.

Highway construction will be suspended from 4 p.m. today until 9 a.m. Monday. The state Department of Transportation says most lanes will be open for the holiday - with a few small exceptions and one big one.

Interstate 40 is still closed near the Tennessee border for cleanup from an Oct. 25 rockslide. Detour signs send I-40 travelers 53 miles out of their way. The new route goes west from Asheville on I-26 to Johnson City, Tenn., then south on I-81 to rejoin I-40 near Knoxville.

On I-85 near High Point, one lane is closed in each direction near Exit 113 (N.C.62). One lane of southbound U.S. 220 is closed at the Randolph-Montgomery county line. In Bertie County, U.S.17 is reduced to one lane on the Cashie River Bridge in Windsor.

Storm repair work on N.C.12 near Rodanthe was suspended this week, and both lanes will be open to traffic through the weekend. Call 511 or check for updates on road conditions and delays.

Triangle gas prices this week are running about 69cents a gallon higher than this time a year ago. But, even as North Carolina's unemployment rate has climbed to 11.0 percent, state gas tax collections and federal traffic counts show that driving levels have been rising since June.

An RDU spokeswoman said the busiest days for air travel will be today, Wednesday and Sunday. Travelers are advised to print boarding passes in advance and arrive 90 minutes before departure.

Check or contact your airline for tips and flight status updates. or 919-829-4527

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