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Travelers due to hit the road this holiday weekend

Others say staying home and barbecuing are in their plans

Posted: August 31, 2012 10:37 a.m.
Updated: August 31, 2012 10:37 a.m.

It may not be as busy as Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the upcoming Labor Day holiday promises congestion and higher gas prices for those making the trek elsewhere for the three-day weekend.

Southern California residents will be traveling in all directions this weekend, but according to an AAA Automobile Club survey of its own travel agents, the most popular destinations will be San Diego, followed by Las Vegas, the Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey), San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.

The number of travelers by plane is expected to increase by 4.1 percent compared to last year, AAA reported. More than 1.85 million Southern Californians are expected to drive to their destinations, an increase of 3.6 percent from Labor Day 2011.

The U.S. Energy Information Association reports that average gas prices on the West Coast stand at $4.04 per gallon, nearly 30 cents higher than the week leading up to Labor Day Weekend 2011.

“Although gas prices are expected to be higher this holiday weekend than during other Labor Day weekends, we anticipate this to have very little impact on holiday travel because most people have planned their trips and made reservations before the dramatic rise in gas prices,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “And fuel costs typically represent a fairly small percentage of the overall trip budget.”
Highway patrol officials expect to see the same amount of consistent congestion as previous Labor Day weekends.

“Typically we’re expecting a lot of volume throughout the weekend, not just on a given day,” said Officer Ricardo Quintero with California Highway Patrol’s Southern Division. “Not everyone is coming from the same place and not heading to the same destinations so congestion will be spread out among most major arteries of Southern California.”

There were 29 deaths on California highways during Labor Day 2011, a 38 percent increase from the 2010 holiday, and 19 of those victims weren’t wearing seatbelts.

“Give yourselves extra time to get to your destination,” Quintero said. “That way you’re not rushing and when you’re not rushing you tend not to speed.”

Maximum force levels for CHP begins Friday at 6 p.m. and extends through Monday right before midnight, Quintero said.

Residents not leaving the Santa Clarita Valley can expect a hot and sunny weekend for barbecues and trips to the pool.

According to the National Weather Service, the SCV will remain sunny with highs between 91 and 95 degrees all weekend.

For those looking to hit the beaches in Los Angeles or Ventura counties, the National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory for the entire long weekend.

Some residents are staying home because of the price of travel, like couple Sara Duncan and Andrew Watson, both 20.

“I wish I could do something exciting, but there’s nothing really to do out here,” Duncan said. The two plans to spend time with each other and with family and friends

Even if the weekend is uneventful, it’s still holiday for most.

“I see it as a holiday to forget about all the stresses throughout the whole year, whether it be with work or anything else in your life,” said Seth Miller from Valencia, who will be barbecuing with his girlfriend and her son.

- Anthony Carpio contributed to this story.





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