Local News

Holiday getaway is slow going on I-40

Posted November 26, 2008 4:34 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2008 6:21 p.m. EST

— Common congestion was reported on Interstate 40 near downtown Raleigh and at exits approaching Raleigh-Durham International Airport Wednesday afternoon. No planes were delayed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Congestion was also reported on highways in and around Charlotte.

AAA Carolinas predicted that fewer people would fly or drive more than 50 miles from home this year than did in 2007, when gas cost about $1 more per gallon. Still, the total of travelers could top 1.5 million in North and South Carolina through Sunday.

The worst tie-up happened in Vance County, where a wreck on northbound Interstate 85 brought traffic to a standstill just as the holiday travel rush hit.

That area was already a bottleneck due to ongoing construction that limits I-85 to one lane in each direction for eight miles from mile markers 206 to 214. Crews will be working there through the holiday weekend.

The state Department of Transportation suspended most highway construction projects that could affect travel over the Thanksgiving holiday – with the exception of I-85.

Boyd Tharrington, a DOT project engineer, says the project – the first rehabilitation of the roadway in more than 30 years – is desperately needed.

North Carolina's largest airport, in Charlotte, was busy Wednesday, but passenger bookings for the week of Thanksgiving were down about 1 percent compared with the same week in 2007, said spokesman Haley Gentry.

The state's No. 2 airport was off 7 percent from last year due to airlines' reducing the number of seats available, Raleigh-Durham International Airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.