So your car is packed, the kids and dog are ready, and you’ve just finished wrapping your last sandwich for the big trip.
The Fourth of July is Friday, and you’ve decided to take the family on a road trip this weekend.
You’re not alone – nationally or locally.
About 41 million people in the country plan to travel this weekend – 85 percent will do so by car, according to a AAA survey.
Here in New York, the No. 1 destination for folks leaving the Buffalo area is within the state, says Steve Pacer, public affairs specialist for AAA Western & Central New York. The same goes for residents in Rochester and Syracuse.
Before you leave your driveway for this long weekend, here are some things you ought to know about Thruway conditions, traffic, gas prices and weather.
There are no construction sites or closures along the Thruway and other north-south and east-west routes including the I-81, or I-88, according to 511ny.org, a site that provides up-to-date traffic conditions along the Thruway.
But there is one closure and detour on I-86 between exits 21 and 23 in the vicinity of Allegany State Park. The detour takes motorists onto state highway 474 between those two exits.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve had some pretty serious accidents on the 90 that have shut things down in both directions or one direction that have caused detours,” Pacer said.
He also noted that traffic on the Thruway is going to be busier than a typical Friday or weekend because of the number of folks driving.
“It’s a time to be with friends and family,” Pacer said of the Fourth of July. “If that means traveling throughout New York State, a lot of people make that trip, even if it’s 100 miles away or 200 because this is a time that you want to be with your family.”
Conditions on the bridges
All signs point to the bridges to Canada being extra busy this weekend.
First, Canada Day was Tuesday and Independence Day is Friday. Plus, the weather is supposed to be in the 80s and sunny at beach sites in Ontario and Toronto on Saturday.
But officials at the Peace, Lewiston-Queenston, Rainbow and Whirlpool bridges are prepared for the busy lines of cars, said Peace Bridge General Manager Ron Rienas. They are opening all of their customer booths on both sides of the border.
The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission website (www.niagarafallsbridges.com) gives real-time traffic conditions. The site also provides hourly updates for the Rainbow and Whirlpool bridges.
The lines will likely be busiest entering Canada around noon.
You’re five minutes into your drive, halfway through your turkey sandwich and playing “I Spy” with the spouse and kids. Now make sure you have enough gas.
If you’re filling your tank in Buffalo before the long drive, regular gas was about $3.88 per gallon as of Wednesday afternoon. Depending on where you’re starting your trip, gas is as low as $3.74 on the West Side and $4.03 downtown.
If you’re heading south, you may want to save some cash and fill up along the way. Gas is as low as $3.69 in Erie, Pa., $3.39 in Newark, N.J., $3.36 in Cleveland and $3.57 in Washington, D.C.
If you’re leaving the area Friday, the major weather condition to prepare for is: how cold is your vehicle’s air conditioning?
For the most part, if you’re driving through New York State on Friday, the weather looks warm and sunny.
For those staying in Western New York for the holiday, the weather forecast is looking ideal for outdoor activities, sunny and breezy Friday through Sunday, with a high of 72 Friday, 74 Saturday and 79 Sunday.
Farther afield, the North Carolina coast was under a hurricane warning for Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic season. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for coastal areas in South Carolina and Virginia. Farther north, the annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks show was moved up a day to tonight because of potential heavy rain ahead of Hurricane Arthur.