• December 20, 2014

Texas travelers hitting the road in vast numbers for holiday weekend

Fill up your tank: It's Memorial Day

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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013 4:30 am

It’s going to be another busy Memorial Day weekend on the nation’s highways.

Through Monday, an estimated 31.2 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more to a beach, campground or other getaway, according to car lobbying group AAA. That’s a small increase from last year but still well short of the record 37.3 million people who drove during the holiday in 2005.

Of the 2.9 million total Texas travelers, 2.5 million will hit the road this weekend, 2.4 percent more than last year, said AAA Texas spokeswoman Sarah Schimmer. On average, Texas drivers will travel 829 miles round-trip this weekend.

“Texans typically drive long distances because we live in a vast state,” Schimmer said.

One lane will be closed on both sides of Interstate 35 at the U.S. Highway 77 overpass north of Hillsboro, as well as one southbound lane on both I-35 East and West feeders before the merge, said TxDOT information specialist Jodi Wheatley. TxDOT is suspending all other main-lane closures until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Law enforcement will be enforcing TxDOT’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign this weekend, applying a zero-tolerance citation policy to any unbuckled driver or passenger.

Along with traveling, Texans also spend more money on average than people in other states, because of a strong state economy, Schimmer said. On average, Texas families will spend $567 this weekend.

Nationally, gas will cost slightly more this year. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline has risen 7 cents in the past week to $3.66 and could increase over the weekend. Gas averaged $3.64 Memorial Day 2012. Still, the price isn’t expected to reach the 2011 Memorial Day average of $3.79.

But the average Texas gas price is $3.43 a gallon, down 8 cents from a year ago, according to AAA.

Nationally, the total number of holiday travelers should decline almost 1 percent to 34.8 million, AAA said, because fewer will choose to fly.

AAA estimates that 2.3 million travelers will take to the skies, down 8 percent from last year. Of 2.9 million total Texas travelers, 205,000 will fly this weekend, a 4 percent decrease from last year, Schimmer said.

Another 1.3 million travelers are estimated by AAA to take buses, trains, ferries and other forms of travel, down 12 percent from last Memorial Day. About 195,000 Texans will use alternative forms of transportation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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