Holiday Traffic: An Oxymoron?
This holiday weekend, the roads and airport security lines will be missing something -- 9,000 travelers. According to a AAA forecast for the Fourth of July weekend, fewer Americans will be going the distance to watch the rockets' red (and gold and blue and silver) glare.
However, that does not mean the roads will be as empty as a country lane on a moonless night or that the airports will be deserted shells. More than 670,000 Washington-area residents, or 12.5 percent of the population, will be traveling at least 50 miles from their home; nationwide, about 40.4 million Americans will be traveling, which would be like if all of Tanzania went on holiday. For Beltway folks, here is an additional breakdown: 530,700 will travel by car, 105,800 by plane, 32,300 by train or bus, and zero by camel or hot-air balloon.
Despite the wee drop from last year (3.3 percent among cars and drivers, for example), don't get lulled into thinking that Indie Day will be a bump-free ride. Travel during off-peak times, which means leaving very early or very late on Thursday and returning very early or late on Sunday. If you can travel on Monday, all the better. On Tuesday, great. Wednesday, well, might as well take the whole week off. For air travel, check-in online and leave your home early, allowing for extra time to find parking, since many lots may be overstuffed. For updates on road and airport delays, check in with the Department of Transportation. Oh, and as a July 4 gift, the DOT is opening military airspace to commercial airplanes, which should reduce delays along the East Coast. Thanks, America.
And for those staying in D.C. for the holiday . . . Keep the car in park and dust off your Schwinn. For the festivities on the National Mall, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association will be offering free valet bike parking, at 15th and Independence Ave SW and on the south side of the Lincoln Memorial. Both sites will be open from 2 to 10 p.m., hopefully after the last firework has fizzled.
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