Saturday, February 24, 2018
Transportation

Highway traffic not expected to be a problem over July Fourth holiday

The road to Clearwater Beach likely will be slow as ever. But for Independence Day travelers planning to catch a flight or drive out of town, the forecast looks good.

Highway traffic won't likely be an issue this holiday, said David Botello, spokesman for Florida Department of Transportation.

"It shouldn't affect anything as far as Fourth of July plans," he said. "Everything is going to be as usual."

And a lack of major construction projects will keep highways flowing freely.

"A lot of communities have their own fireworks and festivities around here, so coming up I-75 isn't usually too bad," he said.

Because Independence Day falls on a Thursday, the roads will be a little less crowded. AAA Travel estimates that 40.8 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home this year, a 0.8 percent dip from last year's Wednesday holiday.

The association cited several reasons why people are staying home, including feeble economic growth and the federal government's decision this year to let the payroll tax cut expire, ending a temporary income boost of several hundred dollars a year for the average American family.

But this holiday is still the busiest of the summer season, with kids free from school and ready for vacation. Most families — 84 percent — will travel by car, though air travel is becoming more popular. An Orbitz index said 66 percent of Americans plan to make the holiday a long weekend, and for the second year in a row, Orlando is their top destination.

At Tampa International Airport, the busiest travel day will be Sunday. The AAA report says almost 40 percent of travelers plan to return then.

"Anyone traveling over this holiday, especially if they're traveling on the weekends, will want to allow some extra time to get through screening," said Christine Osborn, spokeswoman for the airport. That means arriving no less than 90 minutes before the flight. She said parking won't be a problem, but curbside parking has been disallowed since Christmastime. For those picking people up, the cellphone waiting lot is a good option, featuring free Wi-Fi and flight information.

As is usual for holidays, Florida troopers are abandoning administrative offices to get on the road and crack down on speeders, aggressive drivers and those under the influence, Sgt. Steve Gaskins of Florida Highway Patrol said. "We have a greater visible presence as a deterrent," he said. He said drivers should break long drives into parts and avoid distracted driving.

Gas might cost a little more for drivers, but likely not enough to affect plans, AAA said. Prices are up 2 percent on average from this time last year. And gas along the Gulf Coast is still some of the cheapest in the nation.

Claire McNeill can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @clairemcneill.

Comments
Costs nearly double for I-75 interchange in Pasco County

Costs nearly double for I-75 interchange in Pasco County

NEW PORT RICHEY –— The cost of a diamond is getting pricier.The planned "divergent diamond" interchange, intended to ease traffic congestion at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 where Lutz, Land O’Lakes and Wesley Chapel intersect, is going to be more ...
Published: 02/23/18
Enterprising Latinas looks to fill transportation void in Ruskin, Wimauma

Enterprising Latinas looks to fill transportation void in Ruskin, Wimauma

RUSKIN — When HART severely cut public bus service to the Ruskin-Wimauma region last October, many people found themselves stuck at home, with no way to get to where they wanted to go.For Liz Gutierrez, founder and CEO of Enterprising Latinas, campin...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

CLEARWATER — Spring break kicked off this week with a program offering free rides on the Jolley Trolley between downtown and Clearwater Beach until April 29.The Park N Ride service will pick up riders at two lots downtown every 15 minutes and drop th...
Published: 02/22/18
New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

TAMPA — More than a dozen bus routes in Hillsborough County will have new times, paths and stops starting Sunday.The changes come almost four months after the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority rolled out an entirely new bus network, scrapp...
Published: 02/19/18
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Published: 02/18/18
Engineers push back against criticism of bus rapid transit plan

Engineers push back against criticism of bus rapid transit plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Proponents of a bus rapid transit system that would connect St. Petersburg, Tampa and Wesley Chapel pushed back Friday against recent criticism of the proposed plan.The lead engineer told a group of regional leaders that they wanted ...
Published: 02/12/18
Red-light camera challenge gets rough ride at state Supreme Court

Red-light camera challenge gets rough ride at state Supreme Court

TALLAHASSEE — Motorists hoping that the courts will pull the plug on red-light cameras may have hit a roadblock: the Florida Supreme Court.On Wednesday, the court heard arguments in a case that could decide the legality of red-light camera programs a...
Updated one month ago
Hillsborough leaders raise questions about bus rapid transit

Hillsborough leaders raise questions about bus rapid transit

TAMPA — Leaders in Hillsborough politics and transportation are speaking up this week about their concerns with Tampa Bay’s latest proposal to bring transit to the region. Bus rapid transit, known as BRT, emerged last month as the lead o...
Updated one month ago
Shut down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Tampa City Council is skeptical

Shut down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Tampa City Council is skeptical

TAMPA — Shut down Tampa’s iconic Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays? Allow a Gasparilla every weekend, but without the drunken crowds and gaudy pirates? A group of supporters of the "Open Streets" concept pitched the idea Thursday to the Tampa City Counci...
Updated one month ago

She tried to board a flight with her ‘emotional support peacock.’ The airline said no.

Airlines are cracking down on the use of "emotional support animals" — and their case could be strengthened by a woman who tried to bring a peacock onboard a United Airlines flight.First reported by The Jet Set, a travel-focused show, a woman at Newa...
Updated one month ago