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Traffic is heavy on the busiest travel day of year

November 28, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY

erinc@herald-mail.com

Nearly four hours into a seven-hour drive Sunday, Cindy Spieth of Richmond, Va., stopped at a rest stop to stretch her legs and buy a root beer.

Spieth was driving home from Dubois, Pa., and took a 10-minute break at the West Virginia Welcome Center, about one mile from the Maryland state line, just before 4 p.m.

Traffic, she said, was slow.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the most traveled day of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The agency estimated that 13.7 million long-distance trips were made nationwide Sunday.

"You go, then there's a bottleneck, then it goes and bottles back up again," Spieth said.

Bending her right knee a few times, she said her leg was sore and stiff from driving. Spieth typically uses cruise control for long drives, but the stop-and-go traffic on her return trip from the Thanksgiving holiday made that impossible, she said.

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Spieth said she was taking a new route this year. She drove to Waynesboro, Pa., Wednesday, where she said she visited with friends and family for the holiday.

Spieth drove on Interstate 95, Interstate 270 and Interstate 70.

For the ride back, she decided to take Interstate 81 to I-95.

"It's a new route, so I'm not sure if I like it better," she said.

A Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said minor accidents were reported throughout the day. The dispatcher said there were no injuries reported in any of the wrecks.

A crash on I-70 near the top of South Mountain about 10 p.m. was believed to be caused by a patch of black ice, the dispatcher said.

Rain started falling in Washington County about 6 p.m., according to an Accuweather meteorologist. At 10:20 p.m., there were still some isolated showers.

By 11 p.m., about a half-inch of rain was expected to have fallen in the area, the meteorologist said.

When Kaarin Safsten of Buena Vista, Va., drove to New York for the Thanksgiving holiday more than a week ago, she said traffic was light.

"There's a lot more traffic today, though," Safsten said Sunday.

About four hours into a seven-hour drive, she said traffic was heavy, but not so bad that she had to stop.

"It's just a continuous flow with no jams," she said.

Safsten, who was traveling alone, said she passed the time by listening to books on tape.

"I also talk on my cell phone," she said. "Though, I probably shouldn't admit that."

Brad Spier of Arlington, Va., was driving home Sunday after spending the holiday in Pittsburgh with his parents.

He said traffic was so bad on I-70 that he and the people he was traveling with decided to take a different road home.

"We're taking a back way we've never taken before," Spier said. "Traffic was so bad, so we got out the map."

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