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Holiday travelers, shoppers cram Washington County roads

December 24, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - After a weekend of slick roads crammed with holiday travelers and shoppers, local police say they're hoping to see an improvement in traffic conditions today and Tuesday.

"Traffic was very heavy (Saturday) night with last-minute shoppers, and the weather didn't help," said Maryland State Police 1st Sgt. David Kloos. "Better weather means better driving conditions."

Kloos said the Hagers-town barracks is sending many of its officers to this morning's funeral for slain Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Nicholson, but will leave enough troopers on duty to handle calls.

Despite the funeral and the holiday, state police troopers will patrol the interstates today and Tuesday, and the Washington County Sheriff's Department will conduct additional sobriety and aggressive driving patrols, officials said.

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"We're just trying to keep everybody safe," said Sheriff's Department Cpl. Chris Weaver, who said he expects traffic to be heavier today than Tuesday because stores are open, people will be shopping and churches will be holding Christmas Eve services.

However, Christmas Day also brings its share of traffic, "with people traveling back and forth to Grandma's house," Weaver said.

While many holiday travelers left for their destinations last week, about 11 percent planned to leave on Christmas Day, according to a national Web survey of 2,200 adults conducted for AAA in October by the Travel Industry Association.

However, the fact that Christmas falls midweek this year helped to spread out people's travel, Kloos said.

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