New Jersey Roads Expected To Be Crowded For The Holiday Weekend

trafficGood weather and gas prices that are lower than in recent years will likely mean more New Jerseyans will be traveling during the July 4 holiday this year compared to 2009. AAA New Jersey Automobile Club projects a nearly 20 percent spike in the number of Garden State residents traveling 50 or more miles from home during the traditional Independence Day holiday that begins Friday and ends Monday.

“Some of it depends on weather. Some of it depends on the economy and some of it depends on gas prices,” said Cathleen Lewis, spokeswoman for the auto club. “New Jersey’s gas prices are always slightly lower than the national average. For the last two months, gas prices have been falling,” she said. “That sometimes comes into play.”

The average price of gas this holiday in New Jersey is $2.61 for a gallon of regular, compared to the national price of $2.75, according to AAA. In 2008, a regular gallon of gas cost $3.98 – a record high.

This year, slightly more than a million people will take a trip by vehicle, plane, bus, train or other travel mode, compared to 900,000 last year, according to the auto club. The 19 percent increase in travelers in New Jersey outpaces the national average—where a 17.1 percent increase is forecast, AAA officials said.

“It is encouraging to see such growth this summer as people head out to visit family, friends and great destinations,” said Rick Zeckendorf, vice president of travel services for the AAA New Jersey Automobile Club

Officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, also expect to see an increase over last year, said Spokesman Joe Orlando.

Last year, there were 4,515,706 million vehicles on the Turnpike between July 1 and July 7, while roughly 9.5 million hit the Parkway, figures show. This year, the agency projects 4,586,000 will travel on the Turnpike, and 9,584,000 on the Parkway.

“Given the forecast that we’re seeing right now, it could potentially be more than what we expected,” Orlando said. The maximum number of lanes will be in use, he said.

Construction on the Turnpike, Parkway, and other state highways will be suspended starting today through noon on Tuesday, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, to improve safety.

Motorists can access real-time traffic information on www.511nj.org. People can also dial 511, said Jim Simpson, state transportation commissioner. North Jersey

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