VDOT prepares for busy Thanksgiving travel weekend

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SALEM (WSLS 10)-- More Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend than have traveled for Thanksgiving in more than a decade. AAA estimates that 49 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, the most since 2007.

An improving economy and low gas prices are two major factors that have more people hitting the road to visit friends and family. Gas prices in Virginia are hovering below $2 a gallon.

VDOT has released its annual travel trend report, which shows the potential for slowdowns to pick up on Wednesday night. The busiest time is around 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., as people are heading out of town after work.

Waiting until later in the evening to leave or leaving early Thanksgiving morning could help drivers avoid extra traffic and slowdowns.

"Our traffic operation center here will be keeping eyes on the road and trying to provide information to the public through our 511 site and message boards," explains VDOT Spokesperson, Jason Bond. "We can help inform drivers and they can make better decisions and hopefully reduce some of their delays."

Some of the biggest delays in Southwest Virginia will come on Sunday, when people are traveling home. Interstate 81 between the New River Valley and Roanoke is expected to see a lot of slowdowns beginning at noon and lasting until about 8 p.m.