Confidence in economy fueling Thanksgiving travel season 

Posted at 2:00 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 14:00:42-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., -- Despite higher gas prices compared to this time last year, the highest number of Americans will be traveling for the Thanksgiving season since 2007, according to AAA.

"Even though gas prices are up since last year, there's more confidence in the economy," said Martha Meade of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We know that a swing in gas prices by 30 cents doesn't really keep people home. It's really about the economy this year driving the highest numbers we've seen in 10 years."

About 1.4 million people across the Commonwealth will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving and 1.3 million of those will travel by road.

At the South's busiest Amtrak station, the Staple Mills Road station, the lobby was packed of travelers headed to East Coast destinations.

"I don't want to be on the road for Thanksgiving weekend," said mother, Kathryn Herzog. "I've done that before and that would double your travel time."

Herzog and her daughter from Glen Allen are headed to spend the weekend with family in New York.

"Taking a train is like the most relaxed thing you could do," Herzog said. "Even though it takes a little longer hanging out at the station it doesn't have a crazy feeling to it."

Kimberly Woods, Amtrak's spokesperson, said the Staples Mill parking lot widening project is currently limiting parking spaces for their customers.

"It can get frustrating with long lines and extra passengers at the stations," Woods said. "We do encourage customers give a lot of extra time to the station and to get to their destinations."

During construction and throughout the holidays, customers are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes early and be picked up and dropped off at the station, use ride sharing or carpool.

Overflow parking is available at the Henrico Park and Ride on Glenside and Cloverdale, which is about five blocks to the south.

Construction is on schedule and on budget and will continue to Summer 2018.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is from Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

With more people traveling by car, air, bus, and train, AAA urges people to expect delays and beware of traffic hotspots.

The agency said based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, they expects drivers to experience the greatest congestion during the late afternoon drive time, between 3:00 to 6:30 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.

Though gas prices are high this Thanksgiving, the highest since 2014, most people are still planning to hit the roadways this season.

Virginia’s 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast Highlights

• Road trip ready: 90.5 percent of all travelers are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
 Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel will be air travel with a 4.5 percent increase expected.
 Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) are expected to increase slightly by 0.5 percent.
• Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest gas prices over the Thanksgiving holiday since 2014.



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