LIMA — Record traffic can be expected this weekend as travelers prepare for their holiday season travel.
An estimated 4.6 million Ohioans will travel more than 50 miles from home this season, according to AAA, and 90 percent of those will be by vehicle.
Today and Sunday are projected to be the busiest days with Christmas falling on Tuesday this year, while Wednesday is expected to be light.
“Looking at records from 2012, the last year Christmas fell on a Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday were the highest travel periods,” said Kirk Slusher, Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 Deputy Director. “If we stay consistent with 2012, Wednesday should be one of the lowest travel periods of the year.”
One of the largest declines in national gasoline prices are expected to also increase travel. According to GasBuddy, the average price of gasoline is projected at $2.35 per gallon by Christmas Day, down 53 cents per gallon in the last two months.
“The plunge at the pump has brought over $205 million of daily savings on gasoline versus two months ago to motorists nationwide,” stated Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy in a press release.
Progress on local construction will also be a Christmas gift this year for travelers. Slusher said at this point all construction has been shut down for the end of the year for the holiday season, which should help travel patterns.
Most notably, a third lane is now available on Interstate 75 north bound in Findlay between U.S. 224 and county Road 99. The I-75 south ramp to U.S. 68 and Harrison Street overpass have been opened as well.
“Over the holiday, the I-75 project through Findlay is the only place we will have any work zones in the district. Other than that everything should be open to all lanes,” Slusher said. “We anticipate travel flowing freely and not much congestion in our area.”
“There are those who regularly travel in the area, and they’re used to driving in the construction and will allow the time,” said AAA Lima Manager Cindy Nelson. “It’s the ones who are new to and visiting the area that will get stuck.”
ODOT will have over 130 digital highway message boards echoing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration campaigns, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.