ODOT, Amtrak, PDX: Plan ahead for holiday travel!

Transportation

More than 700,000 Oregonians plan on traveling for Thanksgiving

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This week, people are trying to get ahead of the busiest travel day of the year: the day before Thanksgiving. However, some people are already seeing delays to their travel plans.

More than 700,000 Oregonians plan on traveling for the upcoming holiday. AAA said they haven’t seen this kind of travel volume since 2005.

Flying out of Portland

On Monday, the Portland International Airport was calm, but that won’t last for long. KOIN 6 News spoke with some people who were trying to fly out of Portland to Denver Monday morning. Three flights to Denver were canceled because of the weather in Colorado.

“We tried to avoid the holiday craziness and we are kind of getting stuck in the middle of it right now,” said Michelle Smith, one of PDX’s travelers trying to get to Denver. “It’s just kind of been stressful, but just trying to get home.”

Heavy snow canceled Monday flights and delayed Tuesday flights by 9 hours, according to Smith.

“We are thinking of maybe driving because that looks like our best option,” speculated Smith. “Vouchers are not covering the cost for the next flight.”

AAA said people flying should expect long security lines at the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As of Monday afternoon, no other flights had been canceled out of PDX.

Hopping on a train

“This is our busiest week of the year, every single year,” said Olivia Irvin, Public Relations Manager at Amtrak. “Last year, we saw more than 846,000 riders the week of Thanksgiving.”

Amtrak’s busiest travel days, specifically, are the Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday and the following Sunday. For those still looking to travel by train for Thanksgiving, Irvin said tickets are still available, but numbers are limited.

“People don’t want to be gridlocked and there is something nice and relaxing about being on the train,” said Irvin. “We have a pretty generous baggage policy, and during Black Friday, it’s a good time to bring a lot home.”

One Amtrak traveler is optimistic about her choice in transportation.

“So far, we haven’t had any trouble at all, which is a good thing,” said Elaine White. She has opted to take the scenic train route from Portland that travels along the coast. White is heading north to spend the holiday with her niece in Seattle. “So far, good weather in Portland. We will just keep our fingers crossed.”

Taking to the streets

“The most important thing people can do is plan ahead,” warned Don Hamilton with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Go to TripCheck.com, look at the cameras, find out what the route looks like—where you are going to be going and then allow extra time.”

Hamilton said that even in the best conditions, the Thanksgiving holiday is a busy time of year, so everyone needs to be extra careful. ODOT crews are prepped and ready for any winter weather condition that may affect the roads.

“We got salt, we’ve got plows, we’ve got de-icer and sand,” said Hamilton. “All of these things are ready to go.”

ODOT expects the busiest day of travel to be Wednesday, and then again on Sunday. However, Saturday is the Civil War football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers, making for another major event that is bound to attract extra travelers.

“There’s always a delay, even in the best of circumstances, but this year, with the possibility of some snow in the passes and the possibility of air cold temperatures on the valley floor—everyone needs to plan ahead,” said Hamilton.

Whether people are traveling by plane, train, or car, all the experts advise to make sure travelers give themselves enough time.

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