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Georgia expects pre-pandemic travel volume for Thanksgiving

Interstate 20 near Grovetown
Interstate 20 near Grovetown(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 1:40 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Georgia transportation officials are predicting a return to pre-pandemic traffic volumes on the state’s roads this Thanksgiving holiday.

“You’re gonna be sitting in that old-fashioned traffic again,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said.

On the road

In anticipation of the highway traffic, the Georgia Department of Transportation is suspending lane closures on Georgia interstates and state routes from 5 a.m. on Wednesday through 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Officials warned drivers to be cautious because crews could still be working near roadways, and some long-term lane closures may remain for safety reasons.

Experts say that while you may not be able to avoid the higher prices on your road trip, a bit of flexibility can save you a lot of time.

State officials urge you to travel on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

They say the best time for travel will be before 10 a.m., especially if you’ll be passing through Atlanta. If you’re traveling in or around metro Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, add 30-45 minutes to your travel time.

And if you were thinking about traveling back home tight after the big meal, studies show the safest route is from the dinner table to the couch.

The Georgia State Patrol and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, among other agencies, reminded travelers to avoid getting a ticket during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend by remembering to wear their seat belt.

The patrol says 24 people were killed in traffic crashes during the 102-hour extended holiday weekend in 2020. Ten of the 23 people riding in passenger vehicles who died in Georgia last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period were not wearing seat belts. 

In the air

Like highway traffic, air travel is expected to be back at normal levels.

And with Augusta Regional Airport’s two carriers reporting strong ticket sales, airport officials want the public to know about two new amenities:

  • New baggage carousels allow larger bags, increased capacity and greater reliability. This project also includes outbound baggage conveyance systems, two airline baggage service offices and new terrazzo flooring.
  • A new security system ensures that makes sure people exit lanes are only used for exiting. This keeps people from getting into gate areas without going through the security checkpoint.

“As passenger numbers continue to increase and the holiday travel season begins, these two new upgrades will contribute to an improved airport experience by providing state of the art and upgraded systems for AGS,” said Herbert L. Judon Jr., airport executive director.

In your wallet

Gas, rental cars and hotels are all more expensive this year.

The national average of gas is $3.40 per gallon. That’s $1.29 per gallon higher than a year ago.

In Augusta, gas is averaging $3.16 a gallon, up $1.21 from a year ago. Across the river in South Carolina, gas is averaging $3.11 in Aiken and Edgefield counties, also up $1.21 from a year ago.

The Department of Labor shows rental car prices increased 42% this year.

There is no relief if you are flying to your destination, either.

From staffing shortages to possible flight cancellations, airlines are expecting challenges during the busiest travel season of the year.

“We’re seeing a lot of scrambling by the airlines and it is going to continue heading into the holiday season,” Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, said.

According to AAA, mid-range hotel rates increased about 39%.

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