Travel woes around the nation

There's one thing people aren't thankful for on Thanksgiving — travel delays.

Around 43.6 million Americans were projected to travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, just a 0.7 percent increase from last year, according to AAA's yearly Thanksgiving travel analysis.

The slight bump in numbers meant traffic started to build early on many major roadways in New Jersey as travelers head out to their Thanksgiving Day destinations. Travel conditions were expected to worsen as the evening progressed and more drivers took to the road.

Authorities were reporting high volume along stretches of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway as the Wednesday evening commute got under way, but no major problems were occurring.

On the West coast, weather led to some potentially dangerous conditions. Oregon's Department of Transportation issued a traffic advisory for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend because of wet roads and the chance for snow and ice in the mountain passes. The agency also urged motorists to not drink and drive.

Spokesman Don Hamilton said motorists should remember to keep some extra room between their vehicle and the one in front of them because wet roads mean more stopping distance.

Some areas of Oregon still have standing water from Monday's storm and Interstate 5 might be clogged Saturday because of the Civil War football game in Corvallis.

The news was better for those who were traveling by plane. Delays of 15 minutes or less were being reported at Newark Liberty International Airport and at JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York.

But, a strike taking place at Los Angeles International airport led authorities to recommend that travelers should arrive at least 90 minutes earlier than usual to avoid traffic snarls.

Police prearranged traffic diversions around the march, and the airport reported traffic is flowing smoothly through the terminal area. Airlines are reporting no delays.

About a dozen people who sat on a street and disobeyed a dispersal order during a labor march near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport were arrested on Thursday morning.

The planned civil disobedience began Wednesday following the expiration of the permit for a march by the Service Employees International Union and supporters. The union is in a dispute with an airport services company that no longer has SEIU contracts. The strike is taking place during the airport's peak travel season.

For some travelers, the need to stretch their money dictated how they were to arrive at their destinations.

Ashlee Denaro, 35, of Irvine, Calif., was at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday with her three children. The divorced woman had flown to Salt Lake City to pick up the children from her ex-spouse for a flight back to Southern California.

To economize, Denaro, a physical therapist, flew to Phoenix, changed planes for Salt Lake City, then returned to LAX instead of landing at her local Orange County airport. She then planned to drive an hour to Irvine.

The circuitous route saved her $500 on plane fare.

A Pennsylvania Turnpike service plaza just outside Pittsburgh was packed early Wednesday afternoon, with occasional lines of cars waiting for gas.

Linda Lapp-Stout, 64, was traveling from Cleveland to see family in Parkesburg, between Philadelphia and Lancaster. Lapp-Stout, who has driven a school bus for 32 years, said she was thankful for the holiday break and the warm weather, but she was worried about the economy.

“It's hard to even afford gas,” she said.

Landscape designer Anne Murphy, of Gorham, Maine, was waiting for an Amtrak train at Boston's South Station as she and her husband, Ken, headed for Thanksgiving dinner in Gibbsboro, N.J. She said she travels smarter by searching for deals online, using cheaper airports farther from home and packing fewer bags to avoid baggage fees.

“I think we probably travel a little bit less because of costs, but we've definitely traveled more public transportation in order to save on gas,” said Murphy, 56.

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