Pack patience in your suitcase this summer
If you're headed to the "Happiest Place On Earth" this summer, be sure to pack some patience, as major roadway construction projects are underway in the Sunshine State that could cause traffic tie-ups.
That's according to a new report from Rand McNally, which recently released an update detailing how many parts of the country have – or will have – public works crews performing maintenance on major thoroughfares this summer.
Chief among them is what's going on in Florida along one of the state's busiest throughways in Interstate 4. Spanning 132 miles, I-4 is receiving a facelift that comprises roughly 21 miles, according to Rand McNally's report. In order to access major tourist attractions – like Sea World, Walt Disney World, and Universal Orlando – park goers have to take the I-4. It's the year-round warmth and amount of world-renowned theme parks that helps make Orlando one of the busiest tourist destinations in the country, despite it being the fourth-largest city in Florida, never mind where it ranks compared to other major metropolitan areas.
Dallas Interstate 35 project underway
Florida isn't the only state where roadwork is expected to result in bottlenecked conditions. Texas is going through some highway renovations of its own, all in an effort to make travel around the Lone Star State more efficient. Several years in the making, crews are working on expanding a 28-mile section of Interstate 35, which courses through the northern part of Texas. Dubbed the 35Express Project, road work started in October 2013 and was spearheaded by the Texas Department of Transportation, in partnership with AGL Constructors. Approximately $1.4 billion was put forward for the highway overhaul, which upon completion in 2017 will make I-35 much wider. For instance, four-lane areas of the highway before will be opened up to six lanes. The I-35 construction zone runs from Dallas to Denton and connects US-380 in Denton County to I-635 in Dallas County.
Though the massive undertaking is expected to lessen congestion, it's causing headaches for travelers in the time being. Some are having to find alternative routes to get to their destinations more speedily. For example, commercial trucks as well as 18-wheelers are barred from driving in the left lane of Interstate 35E for the foreseeable future, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Philadelphia, Los Angeles also seeing major road work
Dallas-area motorists stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic this summer are sure to find sympathy from road users to their east and west. In Philadelphia, for instance, road work is being done on Interstate 295, Interstate 76, and Route 42 in Camden County, the Rand-McNally report referenced. And in Los Angeles – the second-largest city in the country by population – crews are adding High Occupancy Vehicle lanes headed north and south between Interstate 605 and the Orange County border. According to estimates from transportation analytics firm INRIX, Los Angeles is the most heavily congested city in America, with commuters wasting an estimated 81 hours a year stuck in barely budging traffic.
Expect delays in the air, too
As it is, the summer months bring higher volume, as motorists make their way to familiar or uncharted parts of the country. What may lead to even tighter quarters are the delays expected at airports due to heightened security checks. According to the U.S. Travel Association, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 1 in 5 airline travelers will experience a cancelation or delay.
Recognizing the problem, the American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the government to hire 6,000 more full-time Transportation Security Officers to expedite the bag checking and wanding process.
"Even though TSOs did not create the conditions resulting in seemingly endless lines at airport checkpoints, they are the ones who must deal directly with the shortsightedness of Transportation Security Administration, the airlines, airport authorities, and the Congress," said David Cox, AFGE National President, testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee during a transportation security hearing.
Translation: Try to be as patient as possible in your coming and goings this summer.