Near-record travel expected for Fourth of July; Experts say plan ahead


CLEVELAND (WJW)– Travel this Fourth of July holiday weekend is expected to be near record levels, according to AAA.

It’s advising travelers to plan ahead and be prepared for delays, as ODOT and the Ohio State Highway Patrol gear up for increased holiday traffic.

“Traffic is surging back to near pre-pandemic or even, in many cases when we talk about road travel, surpassing pre-pandemic levels,” said AAA Ohio spokesperson Kimberly Schwind.

AAA said the third-highest travel volume ever is expected for Ohio and second-highest volume nationally.

Schwind said 2 million Ohioans are expected to travel, with 95 percent of them driving. That marks an increase of 500,000 travelers from Memorial Day weekend.

“No matter where you’re traveling, make sure you plan ahead and pack your patience,” Schwind said. “Expect it to take longer than normal.”

The increase in the number of travelers comes despite increases in prices, including for gas, with gas prices now nearing levels between 2011 and 2014.

“Despite the fact we’re looking at the highest gas prices since 2014, higher costs for hotels, rental cars and many other aspects of the vacation budget, we’re not seeing that holding people back,” Schwind said.

ODOT said it is planning to removal barrels and reduce work zones surrounding some of its 1,000 construction projects statewide. It continues to urge caution for people traveling near construction zones.

“Our message, really, is to plan ahead,” ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning said.

Bruning said even non-holiday traffic volume is nearing pre-pandemic levels. Northeast Ohio traffic volume last week was at about 92 percent of where it was during the same week in 2019, according to ODOT.

“We want you to be focused on the road all the time, but when you’re in work zones, it requires extra attention because things can change quickly,” Bruning said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said troopers will be out in force, combatting an uptick in high speeds it has noted since last spring.

“We’ll be out with 100 percent manpower over the holiday weekend ensuring everybody does make it to their destination safely, looking for things like impaired drivers, those failing to wear safety belts and, of course, those who are speeding,” Sgt. Nathan Dennis said.

Traffic volume is expected to remain high through the summer travel season. Experts are urging travelers to prepare for delays on the roads and for long lines at airport checkpoints.

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