Expect higher gas prices, crowded roads this Thanksgiving

Gassing up the car to go to grandma’s house this Thanksgiving?

 

Expect to pay a little more at the pump. And be prepared for more crowded roads.

On the eve of the holiday travel season, the price of unleaded gasoline in the metro Augusta area averaged $2.28 per gallon – roughly 18 cents per gallon more than motorists this time last year, according to AAA data. The association also notes about 1.3 million Georgians plan to travel 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving holiday, a 3.2 percent increase from last year.

Georgia’s Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue last week issued resolutions declaring Nov. 26 as “Drive Safer Sunday” as part of the nonprofit Road Safe America initiative.

AAA Auto Club South spokesman Garrett Townsend on Tuesday acknowledged Thanksgiving vehicle traffic peaks on the Wednesday before the holiday and the following Sunday – the days most people leave and return home. However, he warned motorists against letting their guard down on the days in between.

“We don’t necessarily designate Sunday as the busiest travel day of the year,” he said. “Every day requires caution and vigilance when there is a large number of travelers on the road.”

Nationally, the 50.9 million Americans traveling this holiday weekend is the most since 2005, AAA said. The association forecasts 107,802 Georgians to fly for the holiday, the most since 116,695 flew in 2007.

Getting through airports may take longer this year. Air travel trade publication Airport-Technology says 172 airports in the U.S. – including Augusta Regional Airport – are undergoing some type of renovation or construction.

Augusta Regional Airport Spokeswoman Lauren Smith said the airport’s two main projects will not have an impact on holiday operations. One, the renovation and expansion of terminal restrooms, has not yet started; the other, the taxiway extension project, is on hold from Wednesday through Monday.

“There is no disturbance to anything that would affect passengers,” she said.

Still, she said Monday will be a particularly “heavy travel day” at the airport because of returning holiday travelers and outbound business travelers. She recommends people deviate from the standard one-hour arrival time to give themselves a cushion.

“We’re asking travelers to be here at least 90 to 120 minutes prior to the flight,” she said.

 

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

 

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