Favorable weather, gas prices ease holiday travel

Favorable weather and gas prices could lead to increase holiday travel

The roadways will be full as Virginians head out for the holidays this week.

"The majority of travelers will be driving," said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. "Part of that is because the economy is good and although gas prices are inching up some, they're still relatively low."

AAA is predicting Virginians to travel in record numbers this year. They expect almost 3 million people to travel which would represent a 2.3 percent increase from last year with the majority of them choosing driving as their mode of transportation.

Nationally, more than 103 million Americans—the most ever—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA.

Prices at the pump are favorable for those commuting by car.

The average price of gas in Virginia is $2.13, nationally gas is $2.22, according to AAA.

In the Williamsburg area, gas prices range from $2.05 to $2.09.

Travelers won't have to worry about lane closures and work zones while they navigate to their holiday destinations.

VDOT will suspend most highway work zones and lift lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia for Christmas travel from noon on Friday, Dec. 23, until noon on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

On I-64, all HOV restrictions will be lifted on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Local traffic going to Virginia Beach is encouraged to use the I-664 Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel as an alternative to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, according to VDOT.

During the New Year's holiday, most lane closures and work zones will be lifted from noon on Friday, Dec. 30 until noon on Tuesday, Jan. 3, according to VDOT.

Those who stay close to home won't have to deal with precipitation. Weather in the Williamsburg area should be mild with temperatures hovering around the mid 50s, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

"Overall it looks like favorable weather. We're looking at seasonal temperatures," said Larry Brown, NWS Wakefield meteorologist. "It's looking pretty warm as we get closer to Christmas Day, we are anticipating highs in the 50s."

The favorable weather conditions should bode well for tourism in the area, according to the Ron Kirkland, executive director at the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association.

"The weather will help if we don't have any snow or ice," Kirkland said. "Hopefully folks will come and stay in town, everybody seems optimistic about the Christmas season."

With the combination of good weather and a range of scheduled activities, Colonial Williamsburg is anticipating a lot of visitors over the next week.

"This holiday season we've seen a strong December with hotel reservations and we see that trend continuing through New Year's," said Skip Ferebee, Colonial Williamsburg Executive Director of Business Development, in a statement.

"With comfortable weather forecast and popular activities like shopping, Liberty's Ice Pavilion and Saturday's Community Christmas Tree Lighting, we look forward to a busy week as we invite our neighbors and traveling guests to join us for fun and holiday cheer."

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette