How to navigate July Fourth festivities and travel

VIRGINIA BEACH — More than 44 million people in the country are expected to travel in vehicles, trains, planes and boats during the days leading up to the Fourth of July, with 1.2 million in Virginia alone.

This year, a record-breaking one million Virginians will drive more than 50 miles between last Friday and Tuesday, July 4, according to the American Automobile Association.

In Virginia Beach, don’t plan to take I-264 to the Oceanfront on Tuesday — it’s going to be closed. Instead, take General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach Boulevard, Laskin Road and Shore Drive to get to the resort area.

The Virginia Department of Transportation expects an influx of travelers to flood the Southside for the new Norfolk Premium Outlets, so additional Safety Service Patrols will be on duty; also work zones and lane closures will be lifted from noon Monday, July 3 until Wednesday, July 5, according to a VDOT news release.

And Northampton Boulevard near I-64 in Norfolk is expected to be congested during the holiday, the release said.

The Virginia Department of Motor vehicles is closed and will reopen Wednesday, July 5.

There were 1,285 crashes on Virginia roads last year between July 2 and 5; between 2011 and 2016, there were 4,494 crashes during the same time frame, with alcohol related to about a third of that total, a DMV news release said.

“If you plan to drink, arrange a sober ride home before you leave for your Fourth of July celebration,” Richard D. Holcomb, DMV commissioner and Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s highway-safety representative, said in the release. “You want to end your night watching fireworks with friends and family, not in a jail cell.”

The average gas price in the Commonwealth is $2.05 per gallon, which is 10 cents cheaper than last year; Virginia is one of ten states in the country with the least expensive gas, according to a AAA news release.

According to AAA’s leisure-travel index, daily rates for rental cars are about $65 and average round-trip plane tickets are about $185.

The number of people predicted to travel more than 50 miles for Independence Day in the Commonwealth is the highest in 16 years, according to Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia.

“Combined strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, this Independence Day weekend,” Blumling said. “With a historic 44.2 million Americans traveling to celebrate our nation’s freedom this year, it adds to an already bustling summer travel season.”

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