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Fuel costs keeping more people home for the holiday weekend

Fuel costs keeping more people home for the holiday weekend

If you're burning charcoal in the backyard this weekend instead of burning gas getting to the mounta

If you're burning charcoal in the backyard this weekend instead of burning gas getting to the mountains, you're not alone.

Gasoline is at or near $4 per gallon -- up 85 cents from a year ago -- and many people think the economy is wheezing like a smoker who has taken up jogging.

So maybe it isn't surprising that the American Automobile Association is predicting that for the first time in years, Memorial Day traffic will be less than a year ago.

Still, the traditional kickoff to the summer travel season is looking like three days of great weather, and the itch to get going is strong. State campgrounds in the Capital Region are heavily booked.

"The roads are going to be crowded. For people who are traveling great distances, you'll run into all the usual delays you'd run into on a big holiday weekend," said Eric Stigberg, a local AAA spokesman.

The state Thruway Authority has suspended all construction projects along the highway due to anticipated traffic volumes, but urged people using the road to remember that bottlenecks could occur at spots like Exits 23 and 24 in Albany.

"As always, motorists are reminded to drive with caution and allow for extra travel time to reach their destinations safely," said Thruway Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer.

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