Moderate weather and mostly clear roadways are expected for the Toledo area’s share of the Thanksgiving holiday travel swarm, but those hitting the highways should plan on paying more for gas than they’ve seen of late.
The American Automobile Association said its pre-holiday travel survey estimates a 3.3 percent increase in Americans traveling more than 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday.
That would make this the busiest Thanksgiving travel weekend since 2005, the auto club said. The increase is expected to be proportional on Ohio roadways, with more than 2 million Ohioans hitting the road.
Among them will be Matthew Wayne of Sylvania, who’s planning to spend Thanksgiving Day with relatives in Detroit.
“I’ll be up there early in the morning for the parade, and then we’ll have dinner and watch the Lions games,” Mr. Wayne said Monday afternoon while pumping gas at the Kroger at Secor Road and Monroe Street.
Local gasoline prices averaging $2.598 per gallon — 52 cents higher per gallon than they were a year ago — on Monday afternoon had no impact whatsoever on Mr. Wayne’s travel plans.
“I always try to be home for Thanksgiving,” he said.
Cindy Russeau, the retail manager at AAA Northwest Ohio’s Airport Highway office in southwest Toledo, said the vast majority of holiday travelers are in that 50-mile to 100-mile range.
And while a stronger economy means more people traveling, she said, those visiting relatives mostly share Mr. Wayne’s attitude: “This is family, and people are going to go no matter what.”
Tracy Hoehn of West Toledo won’t be traveling quite as far — only to Wauseon to visit her boyfriend’s grandparents — but she was happy to have some shopper loyalty points she could use to knock down the price a bit as she gassed up her car.
Several others buying gas Monday said they will stay close to home this weekend, but have relatives coming in from out of town.
“We’ll probably go see the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo, especially this year with my 3-month-old son,” said Mark Phillips of Toledo.
Jorge Marroquian, also of Toledo, said most of his relatives are local but two aunts are making a Thanksgiving visit from Texas.
“They came from the warm weather to the cold weather,” he said.
Unlike some past years, weather should be a minimal factor for travelers in the lower Great Lakes this Thanksgiving, whether they’re traveling by car or airplane.
As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast through Sunday for metro Toledo called for precipitation only late Tuesday and Friday night, and only rain in both cases.
Skies are otherwise expected to be dry and often sunny throughout the period, with daytime highs ranging from the mid-to-upper 40s on Tuesday, to the mid-30s on Sunday.
I-75 work zones in Toledo and Findlay represent the most substantial orange-barrel infestations lingering on highways in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan as the 2017 construction season draws to its close.
And with two lanes open in both directions in each work area — which is all those I-75 sections had before their current widening projects began — the main congestion threat will be from crashes or breakdowns, with motorists needing to use particular care when merging or changing lanes.
The Ohio Turnpike said all of its major construction is wrapped up for the year, although some day-to-day lane closings could resume after the holiday weekend for late-season maintenance.
The Ohio Highway Patrol in a statement reminded travelers to wear seat belts at all times and avoid impaired driving. Of nine people who died in crashes in Ohio during last year’s Thanksgiving travel period, the patrol said, five were in crashes involving impaired drivers and six were not wearing seatbelts.
“Safety belts save lives and reduce injury in crashes,” Col. Paul Pride, the patrol’s superintendent, said in a prepared statement. “It is the easiest and most effective action you can take to protect yourself, your family, and friends.”
Ms. Russeau also urged travelers to get vehicle check-ups before heading out to make sure tires, batteries, and other basic vehicle systems are in good working order.