December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Millions will take to road, pay $3 a gallon for holiday

Santa isn’t the only one who travels a lot at Christmas.

According to AAA, 65.2 million Americans — more than 12 million from the Great Lakes region alone — will travel at least 50 miles during this holiday season. And with gas and airfare prices up, they might be more than a little envious of Mr. Claus’s fuel-efficient means of transportation.

“Whether driving or flying, Americans face steep increases in their travel budgets during this Christmas-New Year’s holiday,” said Jim Lehman, senior vice president of AAA East Central.

It’s driving, though, that accounts for the vast majority of holiday commuters — about 53 million. And with gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon — more than 70 cents higher than last year — maybe a lump of coal wouldn’t be such a bad gift after all.

Hopping on a jet won’t prove much of a bargain, either.

Airfares are up 16 percent from last year, according to AAA.

But even if airfares are sky high, flying might still be the travel option of choice. With highways and interstates crammed with travelers, driving could be slow going.

The Ohio Department of Transportation expects holiday travel to be at its peak today when Ohio’s highway traffic volume is likely to increase by 41 percent.

With more than 900,000 airplane passengers in the Great Lakes region, airplane seats could be scarce, too.

But if you are driving, it’s important to account for delays caused by weather or construction. Most construction projects on Interstates 80 and 271 will be suspended for the holiday season, but could still reduce the number of working lanes.

Weather, too, could slow interstate travel — for the latest driving conditions, visit www.BuckeyeTraffic.org.

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7128 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.