More than 103 million Americans are expected to travel during the coming holidays, up by 1.5 million from last year and the eighth straight year of year-end travel growth, AAA Northeast predicted.
That means about 32 percent of the population is expected to take a trip of 50 miles or more between Friday and Jan. 2, the auto club said.
Travel by automobile will account for 91 percent of trips, as usual for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, AAA said. “Even with gas prices above last year, the number of travelers on the road is expected to be 93.6 million,” the auto club said.
Gas prices nationally are about $2.22 a gallon, compared with $2.01 a gallon in 2105, it said.
“The one-horse open sleigh has been abandoned for the private motor vehicle for the vast majority of those heading out for the festive season,” AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said.
The days leading up Christmas are particularly busy on New York City roads. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week account for three of the 10 gridlock alert days for 2016.
For those who fly, the Transportation Security Administration advised arriving at the airport two hours before their flight departs. “Passenger volumes to drastically increase for the holidays,” TSA said in a travel advisory.
AAA estimated that 6 million people will fly during the holidays, an increase of 2.5 percent from last year. “This will be the fifth consecutive year of rising air travel and the highest air travel volume since 2004,” AAA said.
The industry group Airlines for America said daily passenger volume for the season would range from 1.8 million to 2.4 million. The busiest days are expected to be Thursday and Friday, and the lightest days should be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the group said.
“An improving economy and reduced airfares remain the driving force behind the growth in air travel,” the group’s chief economist, John Heimlich, said in a statement.
For those getting an early start to the holiday, the Long Island Rail Road will operate 13 additional eastbound trains from Penn Station between 12:42 and 3:48 p.m. on Friday.
New York State said temporary lane closures for road and bridge construction projects will be suspended from 6 a.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Tuesday this weekend and from 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, to 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3. Some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers or for emergency repairs, the state said.
Locally, there is a chance of rain and snow Saturday morning, on Christmas Eve, and Sunday, Christmas Day, should be sunny with a high near 44, according to the National Weather Service. Last year at this time, temperatures topped 70 degrees on some days during the holidays.