Busy highways expected on Labor Day weekend

Even though gasoline prices are up over last year, highways are expected to be busy this Labor Day holiday weekend.

Adding to the traffic will be about 100,000 football fans converging on Penn State’s Beaver Stadium for Saturday’s season opener against Appalachian State.

Most locations in the Altoona area are selling regular gasoline for $3.05 a gallon compared to $2.69 at this time last year.

AAA no longer predicts the number of Labor Day travelers after deciding the holiday does not command as much interest as more popular travel periods and other auto club research projects.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, however, anticipates a projected 3.5 million vehicles to travel the statewide toll roads beginning today and ending Tuesday.

“Travelers might think that heading out by noon on Friday will give them a jump on the holiday traffic,” Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said in a statement, “But you may want to consider getting on the road earlier on Friday, or even on Thursday if you can, as it may save you time in the long run.”

Friday will be the most heavily traveled day with approximately 750,000 vehicles on the turnpike, followed by today with about 685,000 vehicles. Friday afternoon will be a peak travel time. To keep traffic moving as safely and efficiently as possible, the turnpike has increased staffing and suspended construction and maintenance work. All available lanes are open in each direction beginning at 3 p.m. today through 11 p.m. on Monday.

Pennsylvania State Police also will have additional turnpike patrols on duty during the holiday.

Lt. David Devitt reminds drivers of the importance of planning regular breaks.

“If you find yourself feeling tired, your focus is fading and then you are at a greater risk of being involved in a crash. Plan your trip to build in regular breaks or stop at a safe place to switch drivers. Stay safe behind the wheel by not allowing yourself to become distracted,” Devitt said in a statement.

In addition, law enforcement will be on the lookout for impaired drivers. State police and members of the Blair DUI task force will conduct operations to look for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before drinking alcohol, people should arrange a ride with someone who is sober or take a taxi.

In addition, anyone seeing an impaired driver should call 911 immediately. If a person under the influence plans to drive, friends should take their keys and make other arrangements.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.