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Busiest Travel Day Takes Off

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — The busiest travel day of the year is the day before Thanksgiving. A record number of Americans is expected to hit the road, ride the rails and take to the skies between now and Sunday.

The line of cars in front of Terminal A atRDU Internationalstarted forming early Wednesday morning. But, by evening, getting to the gates was not too bad. And, while traffic was backed up somewhat in front of the terminals, the parking lots were doing fairly well.

Nonetheless, travelers may find their patience tested, as the limits of airport parking are tested.

Many of the lots had reached capacity earlier in the day, but by Wednesday night, Lots l, 2 and 3 were open. Park and Ride Lot 4 still has the most spaces available.

Overall, officials were pleased they could handle all of the holiday traffic.

"At 6 p.m., everything seemed to flow pretty well," said airport spokesman Mike Blanton. "We had some traffic backed up a little bit in front of Terminal A, but the commercial curbs and the new lanes of traffic helped us get through."

The free shuttle buses, which transport travelers from outlying lots to the terminals, seemed to be doing quite well. In a strictly unofficial survey, nine were seen rolling through one pick-up area in a 20-minute span.

"It was pretty impressive," Curtis Walker, a traveler, said. "I have been here before, and I have never seen it so full. I'm very satisfied."

If a traveler does plan to park in one of the main lots, officials say pay attention to the electronic signs because they are the best indication of where spots are available.

The parking crunch is also helping to fill up the 950-space VIP lot. "It's probably going to get crazy," said manager Fatina Harris. "As far as this filling up, we've never had to turn anyone away."

This holiday could be a first, though. Many travelers are expected to shell out $8.50 a day to have their car parked, and get a ride to the terminal.

"It's so much more convenient than trying to struggle around in all those parking lots and waiting for the buses and dragging your bags," said traveler Amy Davis.

Another alternative is a temporary lot across from Park and Ride 4. The lot costs $10 for the entire stay. Other lots cost $15 between Wednesday and Sunday.

Officials still recommend that travelers have someone drop them off to avoid parking entirely. And of course, allow plenty of time.

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Julie Moos, Web Editor

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