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AAA: Number of Maryland travelers expected to increase with Wednesday holiday

July 01, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

With the Fourth of July holiday on Wednesday this year, the number of Maryland travelers is expected to increase, according to a news release from AAA.

“The holiday is falling midweek and gas prices are on the decline, so more people are expected to travel,” AAA Public and Government Affairs Manager Ragina Averella said. “The travel period is defined as July 3 through July 8, but many people will be leaving before July 3.”

A total of 846,000 Marylanders are expected to travel 50 miles or more during that period, a 5.3 percent increase from 2011, according to the release. Averella said part of the reason for the increase is that air travel is up, but the holiday being in the middle of the week is a factor as well.

“Some are leaving on the front end, some are going on the back end and some are making a whole week out of it,” she said.  “We think it is a sign of an improving economy, but people going on vacation don’t intend to spend as much this year.”

Approximately 725,000 Marylanders are expected to travel on the road, a 4.5 percent increase from 2011, according to the release. That is the highest number of travelers in more than 10 years.

However, 64,600 Marylanders are expected to travel by air, a 10.3 percent increase, according to the release.

About 56,400 Marylanders, a 10.5 percent increase from 2011, will use alternative modes of transportation, including buses, trains and water.

In the Hagerstown area, some residents will be a part of the traveling, but some will not.

Hagerstown resident Courtney Dicus, 21, will be going to Baltimore Monday to visit with relatives. On Wednesday, her daughter, Jaelynn Dicus, 2, will be joining her. Jaelynn will be traveling with her father, Sean Sisler, 22.

Dicus said she is not worried about the traveling.

“We just make sure the car’s good and fill up,” she said. “We usually try to beat the traffic.”

Dicus added that they will be watching the fireworks together at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

“They always have a good show,” she said. “It’s more family-oriented, and there’s more places to eat.”

Hagerstown resident Walter Vanes, 34, however, said he will stay home with his family for the holiday.

“I’m just going to drink and cook with my family and friends,” he said. “I have no reason to leave on the Fourth.”

Vanes added that everything he needs for the holiday is right near where he lives.

“I’m right by the fairgrounds for fireworks, and a beer store is right up the street,” he said. “I don’t have to travel.”

Maryland State Highway Administration spokesperson Dave Buck said that the SHA’s nonemergency roadwork will be suspended Tuesday through Thursday, but he added that traffic is not expected to be as congested on the highways this year as it was in other years.

“Given that it falls on a Wednesday, traffic will spread out over the week,” he said. “The Fourth is also a local holiday.”

Despite less congestion, Buck did say that people should still be careful when driving during the holiday.

“It still doesn’t take much around a holiday to back up traffic,” he said. “Also, with this heat, a little preventive maintenance on your car could certainly go a long way.”

Motorists can check the SHA website, http://sha.md.gov, for information about highways, and they can also dial 511 to find out about any traffic backups.

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