The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 24, 2013

Survey finds fewer planning Thanksgiving trips

— Although the average price of gasoline is 25 cents per gallon lower than last year this time, fewer of us will be loading up the car and heading out to give thanks with distant family and friends.

Those who do travel might want to avoid the South Somerset Service Plaza of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County, which travel watchers say will be the third busiest in the Northeast.

Capturing fourth on the list, prepared by Foursquare, a social networking website, is just to the east, the Sideling Hill Service Plaza in Fulton County.

But regardless of travel route or rest stop favorite, the numbers of travelers heading out Wednesday, the nation’s busiest travel day of the year, will be fewer than last year by 1.5 percent.

The Survey by the American Automobile Association says that 90 percent of those traveling will go by car, and will reflect a decrease from last year of 1.6 percent for a total of 38.9 percent.

The survey looks at motorists traveling 50 or more miles from their home.

An even sharper decline is forecast for those traveling by air.

Word from the AAA is that 3.13 million travelers will fly and while the numbers are down by 3.7 percent over last year, the average air trip will be 13 miles longer, bumping it up to 601 miles.

Weather could play a role in traffic movement during the early part of Wednesday, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

A storm is expected to move up the Eastern Seaboard starting late Tuesday.

“As far as Wednesday goes, there’s probably a chance for some snow or rain, but we might be far enough west to miss out,” he said.

Temperatures will be in the 20s with highs into the low 30s and there could be travel delays.

“Thanksgiving itself looks OK, but it will be cold,” he said.

The cold temperatures will hang around through the weekend, but the forecast calls for it to be dry.

Meanwhile, the nationwide forecast of fewer drivers on the highway this Thanksgiving is not reflective of what officials of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are expecting.

Over the five-day extended weekend, the toll road will see 2.6 million drivers, according to an estimate by spokesman Carl DeFebo.

That figure parallels the number of turnpike travelers for Thanksgiving weekend last year.

To ease congestion and keep the highway safe, the turnpike has modified all construction and maintenance work to allow full use of the roadway.

All lanes will be available beginning at

3 p.m. today and remain open through 6 a.m. Dec. 2, DeFebo said.

The turnpike’s state police troop will be on patrol watching for speeding and aggressive driving and those texting while behind the wheel, said Capt. Gregory Bacher, commanding officer of Troop T.

“The point is to be alert and pay attention while driving, especially in such heavy traffic over this holiday season,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had more road rage incidents on the turnpike lately and with the amount of drivers on the road during Thanksgiving, not everyone is courteous and aware of their surroundings.”

PennDOT is handing out the same advice along with word that it, along with state police and local police departments, are teaming up for “Operation Safe Holiday.”

It is enforcement focusing on seatbelt use and impaired-driving.

Slowing down and paying attention can be crucial to staying alive, said Tara Callahan-Henry, press officer for PennDOT District 9.

“The Thanksgiving holiday period experienced the highest number of crashes and fatalities of any major holiday season last year,” she said.

During the long holiday weekend of 2012 there were 4,328 crashes and 53 fatalities statewide, she said.

Safety tips

Tips from PennDOT for getting there safely:

• Obey posted speed limits and all traffic laws.

• Adapt your driving to weather conditions.

• Keep an eye out for aggressive drivers in congested areas.

• Avoid the temptation to drive aggressively.

• Avoid distractions and keep your eyes on the highway.

• Never drink and drive.

• Always wear your seatbelt.

Kathy Mellott covers transportation issues for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads