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Turnpike traffic for Thanksgiving falls almost 2 percent

November 27, 2018

CHARLESTON — Despite what had been projected to be the busiest Thanksgiving holiday travel weekend since 2005, Thanksgiving traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike fell nearly 2 percent from the six-day travel period last year, according to figures released Monday by the state Parkways Authority.

From Tuesday, Nov. 20, through Sunday, Nov. 25, the Turnpike handled a total of 774,735 toll transactions, down from 788,444 transactions for the same period last year, a drop of 1.74 percent.

That is in stark contrast to projections by AAA that Thanksgiving travel nationally would jump by 4.8 percent over 2017, with 54 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more for the long holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving holiday travel on the Turnpike in 2017 traffic increased 0.7 of a percent from the 2016 holiday travel period, less than Parkways Authority officials were hoping for last year.

Parkways Authority general manager Greg Barr could not be reached to comment on the 2018 downturn in Turnpike traffic for the holiday.

Turnpike Thanksgiving holiday traffic increased 3 percent in 2016 and nearly 6 percent in 2015.

The Turnpike saw a sharp downturn in Thanksgiving holiday traffic in 2014, as travelers heeded forecasts for a major winter storm in the region, a storm that never materialized.

The 2018 Thanksgiving travel period was marked by generally good weather in the region, with no major traffic backups or crashes on the Turnpike.

“There were some back-ups of traffic in the mid-to-late afternoon on Sunday due to high volumes of traffic, but overall the back-ups were minimal during the Thanksgiving travel period and there were no major accidents,” Barr said in a prepared statement.

Wednesday, Nov. 21, was the busiest travel day, with 173,917 toll transactions, followed by Sunday, Nov. 25, with 173,872 transactions.

The lightest travel day of the six-day period was Thanksgiving Day, with 74,492 transactions.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow

@PhilKabler on Twitter.

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