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Roads, airport crammed with holiday traffic

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

There really are that many people on the road, this weekend.

According to automobile and airport authorities, there are more than one million people driving in Georgia, for the three-day Independence Day weekend, and hundreds of thousands of people crowding into the airport.

"Our Independence Day holiday brings a great opportunity for families to enjoy a three-day weekend," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president of AAA's Auto club South. "We expect about 13 percent of the nation's population to travel this weekend ... a great many will head to the beaches, theme parks and community gatherings."

Across the Southeast, according to AAA, about 8.7 million people will travel more than 50 miles, a number that is only down slightly from last year, though gas prices have increased by more than $1 per gallon. In the Southeast, car travel is predicted to be down by only about 1.3 percent.

In the week before the holiday, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, officials reported they saw 1.7 million people pass through the airport.

Roishina C. Henderson, Hartsfield-Jackson spokesperson, said the passenger volume had increased by about six percent from a year ago.

"Air travelers should pack some patience for the holiday week and weekend," Henderson said. "An average day for the time period could bring as many as 250,000 travelers."

The busiest days at the airport are normally July 2, with more than 263,000 travelers, and July 7, with about 268,000 travelers. The only day, during the holiday period, that the travel drops off is on July 4, but even on Independence Day, the airlines had scheduled more than 178,000 travelers to come to, leave, or pass through, the Atlanta airport.

Airport officials were urging passengers to help decrease security wait times by following Transportation Security Administration rules, checking out the information available at www.TSA.gov, the Trak-A-Flight at www.atlanta-airport.com, and road conditions and parking availability at (877) ATL-PARK.

Henderson said travelers should arrive at least two hours before domestic flights, and three hours before international flights.

"Come early, but also be patient. Passenger traffic is always heavier during holiday periods and enhanced security measures may contribute to increased times."