Traffic

Travelers can expect busier roads, fewer flights

Fewer of us are flying for the year-end holidays, but cheap gas will make highway travel a bit busier this week than it was for last year's holidays. And after an early-week cold snap, forecasters expect temperatures to rise Wednesday and remain well above freezing through the weekend, with a chance of showers on Christmas.

By car

AAA Carolinas predicts that 1.66 million North Carolinians will make a holiday trip by car, up slightly from 1.65 million last year.

Gas prices are approaching Christmas 2003 levels. Triangle motorists paid an average $1.635 a gallon for self-service regular Monday -- down $1.31 in the past year.

Most road construction is suspended for the holiday, but an Interstate 85 paving project in Vance County has reduced travel to one lane in both directions between Oxford and Henderson. Detours recommended by state transportation officials will dump traffic onto I-40, I-540 and U.S. 64 in the Triangle, and I-95 north of Rocky Mount.

State troopers are targeting aggressive and impaired drivers to reduce accidents. Holiday crashes around Christmas and New Year's a year ago claimed 27 lives over nine days.

For updates on the I-85 work and other highway conditions call 511 or check www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel online.

By plane

The number of available flights for holiday travel is down this year. Raleigh-Durham International Airport expects 275,000 travelers over the two weeks that began Thursday, an 8 percent drop from last year.

At RDU, the old Terminal C has been replaced by the new Terminal 2 (American, Delta, United, Air Canada and Charter Express). The old Terminal A now is called Terminal 1 (Southwest, Northwest, Continental, US Airways, AirTran and JetBlue). Today and Jan. 4 will be the two busiest days of the holiday season at RDU.

Find travel tips and flight arrival status at www.rdu.com.

By train

Amtrak reported record-breaking numbers in Raleigh during Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holiday will be nearly as busy.

Parking is limited at the Amtrak station on Cabarrus Street. Amtrak suggests catching a ride or a taxi to the train station, or arriving early enough to park a few blocks away.

Some rail travelers find it more convenient to catch the train at Amtrak stations in Durham, Cary or Selma, where parking is more plentiful.

Check train arrival times at amtrak.com.

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