The Woodward News

November 27, 2013

Expect busy highways for the holiday

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Approximately 15 percent of Oklahoma's 3.8 million residents are expected to travel for the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA Oklahoma estimates that around 574,700 Oklahomans will be traveling 50 miles or more this holiday weekend.

While this is down slightly from the 2012 numbers, AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said “the decrease is less than one percent, just seven-tenths of one percent.”

“While the number is down a bit, there will still be quite a few of us on the roads and flying through the air and going over the hills and through the woods to grandma's house,” Mai said.

This means that travelers can and should expect and plan for busy and crowded conditions, however they choose to travel, he said.

“The highways will be busy, especially on Wednesday,” he said.

In a nationwide AAA survey, Mai said 37 percent of travelers indicated they will be traveling toward their holiday destination on Wednesday.

And Sunday looks to be almost just as busy with 33 percent of those surveyed indicating they would be traveling back home on Sunday, he said.

“If people can avoid traveling Wednesday or Sunday then they can avoid some of the congestion. Either by leaving on Tuesday or even Thursday morning and coming back on Saturday or waiting until Monday to return, they can perhaps have an easier drive and it will take less time,” Mai said.

But it won't just be the highways that are busy. With around 47,500 Oklahomans expected to fly for the holiday, airports will be bustling too, Mai said.

“Airports will be very congested,” he said. “Airlines are flying smaller planes and fewer of them. So flights will be crowded and security lines will be packed. It is important to arrive early at the airport, at least an hour before your flight leaves.”

Whether driving or flying, Mai said it will be a good idea for travelers to “plan extra time to get where you're going and bring along an extra dose of patience.”

And for those driving, he said some additional tips include:

carrying emergency supplies such as jumper cables, tools, flashlight, blankets, first aid kit, and cell phone with charger “just in case;”

being prepared for weather conditions in whatever states you might be traveling through, especially in cases of snow and ice and really cold temperatures; and

being aware of road construction and closures so you can plan your trip accordingly.

“It's always good to know what you're getting into,” Mai said.

He said that the AAA.com website includes information about road conditions and each state also has its own informational websites or phone numbers which travelers can use to check on roadways. In Oklahoma, you can get the latest road conditions by calling the Department of Public Safety hotline at (405) 425-2385.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation also publicizes some of the highway closures, which for this holiday weekend include:

I-40 narrowed near Sayre, Beckham Co.

I-40 is narrowed to one lane in each direction between US-283 and SH-152 near Sayre.

Broadway Ext./I-235/I-44 interchange in Oklahoma City

Drivers can expect a number of ongoing lane and ramp closures at the Broadway Ext./I-235/I-44 interchange. Throughout the project, drivers are advised to expect lengthy delays. For a map of major construction projects in the OKC metro area visit: www.okladot.state.ok.us/newsmedia/traffax/okc

I-40 narrowed, lanes shifted; SH-4 (Mustang Rd.) narrowed in Yukon

I-40 is narrowed to two lanes in each direction between Garth Brooks Blvd. in Yukon and Council Rd. in Oklahoma City. The speed limit is lowered to 55 mph.

I-35 narrowed south of Norman

North and southbound I-35 are narrowed to two lanes at the South Canadian River bridge, south of SH-9 East in Norman. Motorists are advised to expect congestion and use US-77 as an alternate route; however, it is an active work zone.

I-44/177th E. Ave. widening project

All lanes of eastbound I-44 are shifted to a new section of pavement at 177th E. Ave. (Lynn Lane). Use caution as traffic adjusts to this new route.

SH-151 closed at Keystone Dam near Mannford

SH-151 is closed to through traffic between the SH-51 and US-412/US-64 junctions until late 2014 for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. Drivers can use SH-48 or SH-97/SH-51 as a detour during this project.

I-244/Arkansas River bridge project – For a map of this construction zone visit: www.okladot.state.ok.us/newsmedia/traffax/tulsa

As part of a bridge replacement project, there are several lane and ramp closures. Plan for extra travel time for detours on the Inner Dispersal Loop.