Friday was the start of a busy travel season that won’t subside until 2013.
Travel for Christmas and New Year will probably peak today and Sunday, according to AAA spokesman Eric Stigberg, who expects things to slow a little late in the week. This traffic pattern is distinct from other holidays, because the two coming so closely together create multiple travel opportunities.
Most of that travel will be on the road, Stigberg said. Historically, more than 90 percent of travel is by car during the December holidays, based on statistics compiled by AAA for the Capital Region.
A lot of that travel will be on the 570 miles that make up the state’s Thruway system.
“Whether heading to visit friends or family this holiday season, the New York State Thruway Authority encourages motorists to make safety a part of their travel plans by planning ahead and being prepared to handle any adverse winter weather driving conditions that may occur,” said Thruway Authority spokeswoman Betsy Feldstein. “Drivers are also reminded to use the variety of services offered at the Thruway’s travel plazas, which will be open on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.”
As part of the state’s efforts to keep motorists safe, Feldstein said they’ll have 600 employees on the clock to handle any weather emergency and have more than 200 large plow trucks ready for the roads. They’ll also have smaller plow trucks, front-end loaders and large snowblowers to use and 180,000 tons of rock salt and 175,000 gallons of salt brine for the roads.
State police will also be monitoring safety conditions. “It is crucial that all motorists understand the importance of remaining alert and driving safely through all conditions,” said state Police Troop T Sgt. Thomas Ferritto.
Travelers looking to avoid the roads can take to the skies, but people flying out of Albany International Airport are advised to arrive 90 minutes before their flights.
“It is essential to allow sufficient time to travel to the airport, park, check luggage and proceed through the security checkpoint,” said the Rev. Kenneth Doyle, vice chairman of the Albany County Airport Authority. “Passengers who are prepared for security screening before they reach the checkpoint will help make the process easier for both themselves and other passengers.”
Anyone flying with gift packages for Christmas shouldn’t wrap these presents, as security personnel may be forced to undo any pretty wrapping for proper inspection.
Additionally, travelers are reminded that gels, liquids and aerosols in containers of only 3.4 ounces or less are allowed as carry-ons.
Peak travel periods at the Colonie airport are 5 to 8 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Travelers are urged to arrive two hours early during these periods.
Despite all the traveling being done, though, Stigberg said AAA’s research indicates it isn’t the most popular thing to do during this holiday season. He said the most popular activity is eating out, travel is second and shopping is third.