Wednesday, November 24, 1999
Holiday travel rush is on
Expect crowds on the roads and in the air
BY TANYA ALBERT and PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
People who left town Tuesday afternoon to get to their Thanksgiving destinations had an easier trip than drivers, fliers and bus riders who are planning to travel today.
Kenny Hammonds, 10, holds his dog as he and his father visit a rest stop near Morrow.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
Tuesday officially marked the beginning of the holiday travel weekend that the American Automobile Association (AAA) expects to be the busiest ever. The association estimates that a record 33.8 million people are planning trips 100 miles or more from home this weekend, slightly more than the 33.6 million who took Thanksgiving trips last year.
Today is expected to be the second-busiest travel day of the weekend, and among the busiest of the year. Sunday will be the heaviest, as people return for work and school on Monday.
At 3 p.m., seats in the Grey hound bus terminal in downtown Cincinnati were full, and longer lines were starting to form at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Automobile traffic also started building by midafternoon Tuesday.
We came through Columbus at 1 p.m., and traffic was starting to get heavier, said semi-truck driver Betty Gibson, who stopped at the Interstate 71 rest area near Lebanon while making her way home to Texas.
But several drivers Tuesday said they were making good time in what they described as light or heavy but moving traffic. Many purposely planned to leave Tuesday in hopes of avoiding gridlock.
We were going to leave tomorrow, and my son said let's leave today and get a day ahead of traffic, said Ernie Eggers, who was traveling from Louisville to Columbus with his son and wife.
Traffic was somewhat heavy, but moving, he said.
Michael Hammonds was bound for Youngstown, Ohio, from Atlanta with his wife, son and dog. They left early to avoid crowded highways, and ran into congestion only in Cincinnati.
At the airport, the first of the 143,000 Delta Air Lines travelers expected this weekend started their journeys.
While travelers today may have to wait in long lines to check luggage, finding a long-term parking spot might be easier than it was last year. Six-hundred new long-term parking spaces are scheduled to open today.
The Kenton County Airport Board is expanding the international airport's long-term lot by about 2,000 parking spaces, said Lisa Noertker, the airport's parking manager. We weren't expecting to be finished with the work until December, but some of the work was finished early, so we'll have 600 spaces open (today) for Thanksgiving passengers, Ms. Noertker said Tuesday.
The lot will have room for 3,500 vehicles with the additional parking spaces. The lot is just off the main entrance road to the airport, which is the road motorists take from Interstate 275 to the airport. It is marked by a large sign on the right side of the entrance road.
Still, Ms. Noertker said there is a good possibility that the lot will be full because of the Thanksgiving rush. She suggested arriving early.
If a passenger pulls into the lot and can't find a space, he will be given a coupon by the attendant to park in the short-term terminal garages at the less expensive long-term rate.
The garage across from the Delta's terminal is typically full or close to full, so Ms. Noertker suggested looking for spaces in the garages that serve the airport's other terminals.
Passengers can also find parking at the three privately owned lots on the north side of Interstate 275 on Petersburg Road.
We have over 2,000 spaces and expect to have plenty of parking spaces available, said Andrea Chavez, general manager at Airport Fast Park.
And you don't even have to get here early. We'll get you from our lot to the airport within three minutes, Ms. Chavez said.
Thanksgiving weekend isn't even the busiest travel time for the lot. Ms. Chavez said there are days in March that are busier because of so many people taking spring-break vacations.
Check local traffic updates at cincinnati.com/traffic
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