High travel expected for Thanksgiving holiday

Nov. 24, 2013 @ 08:52 AM

Motorists heading out and about this Thanksgiving holiday can expect a lot of fellow travelers.

A report from AAA Carolinas said nearly 1.17 million North Carolinians will hit the road for the upcoming weekend. The new figures are an increase of almost 36,000 over last year.

"As a traditional family holiday, Thanksgiving is the busiest travel weekend of the year," said AAA Carolinas CEO David Parsons, in a statement. "Drivers should expect heavy congestion and plan on taking more time to reach their destination."

One bright spot to the travel weekend will be the cost of gas.

The report indicated the average gas price in North Carolina at $3.29 per gallon which is down from Labor Day's average price of $3.51. This year's price is also $0.07 lower than the Thanksgiving weekend price a year ago, according to the report.

The highest price of gas in North Carolina will be $3.30 per gallon in Asheville. On the other hand, Fayetteville and the surrounding area is reporting the lowest gas prices, with an average of $3.18 per gallon.

As of this weekend, the average price of gas in Rutherford County is $3.23 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. That is higher than last weekend's average of $3.19.

South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia are all reporting the potential for even lower gas prices with South Carolina expecting a gallon of gas to cost $3.07 for the Thanksgiving weekend.

In addition, the price of airfare is also expected to be lower this year than in years past. AAA Carolinas forecast airfare being down 1 percent over 2012.

Hotel rates are also lower, but not significantly. The report said hotel rates are roughly $1 lower this year compared to last.

While there may be construction delays on some North Carolina roadways, work will be suspended from Tuesday, Nov. 26 through Monday, Dec. 2.

In Rutherford County, the only significant road construction is occurring on U.S. 221 northbound and southbound from U.S. 74 to the South Carolina state line.

Interstates and highways in South Carolina will have no lane closures due to holiday rules imposed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

AAA Carolinas said 37 percent of weekend travelers will leave for their final destination on Wednesday and return Sunday. If you are traveling by air, the busiest departure date is Monday, Nov. 25 and the highest number of people expected to return is on Monday, Dec. 2.

With the increase in traffic comes the increased potential for accidents. Parsons said 15 people died in crashes on North Carolina highways over the 2012 holiday weekend.