Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to approach prepandemic levels nationwide while motorists driving through Rock County can enjoy the fully completed reconstruction of Interstate 90/39.

After six years of construction, lane reroutes and delays, drivers on I-90/39 will have unimpeded access to at least three lanes of travel in each direction from the Wisconsin-Illinois state line to Madison.

“We are grateful and thankful for the residents, businesses and drivers for their patience and perseverance on Interstate construction over the last six years,” project communications manager Steve Theisen said.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says drivers should buckle up, avoid distractions and “park” their phone when driving to holiday destinations. Drivers should also plan ahead by checking 511wi.gov for Wisconsin road conditions and gettingaroundillinois.com for Illinois roadway conditions.

Airports and roads might seem jam-packed this year with the American Automobile Association predicting 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. This would bring travel volumes to within 5% of prepandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year, national travel data monitored by AAA shows.

“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” AAA Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said. “Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.”

With 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving coupled with the recent opening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers, people should prepare for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Friday, Nov. 19, was the single busiest air travel day since the start of the pandemic. The TSA said it screened 2.24 million travelers at airports across the country on that day. TSA expects to screen about 20 million more air passengers over the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush with Sunday, Nov. 28, expected to be the peak travel day.

Car travelers will face higher gas prices as inflation across the country has risen to a 31-year high. The price of gas has increased by 49.6% from last year, pushing the national average for a gallon of gas to $3.40, according to AAA data, and gas prices are near their highest point since 2014.

Travelers should also monitor COVID-19 conditions at their anticipated destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible.


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