Thanksgiving Travel: Where Utahners Can Expect Traffic Delays, Find The Best Gasoline Prices

Rosiland Edwards prepares to pump gasoline at Harts Gas & Food in Midvale on March 24th. According to the AAA, Utah average gasoline prices are up 60% over the same period last year. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Estimated reading time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY – Thanksgiving travel is expected to hit near pre-pandemic levels this year as millions of Americans are expected to go to celebrate the holiday with loved ones.

The annual AAA Thanksgiving travel forecast calls for a near return to 2019 travel numbers this year after a decline last year during the pandemic. It is estimated that 53.4 million Americans will travel in some shape or fashion during the vacation week, and 48.3 million – about 90% – will travel by car. The automotive forecast is 3% below the 2019 numbers, but an 8% jump from 2020 levels.

Aldo Vazquez, spokesman for AAA Utah, said earlier this month that Thanksgiving travelers “can expect more crowded streets … than they have seen in a while”. The Utah Department of Transportation warns that the increase in tourist traffic will cause traffic delays, especially the day before the holiday and at the end of the long weekend.

Expected traffic delays

Wednesday is expected to be the busiest day of the week, which is expected to result in delays on I-15 of 10 to 15 minutes due to traffic jams. According to UDOT traffic engineers, drivers should be aware of delays of up to 10 minutes on I-15 northbound from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on I-15 southbound in the Nephi area between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Set to 12:00 a.m. on Wednesdays and up to 15 minutes on Wednesdays southbound on I-15 in Salt Lake County from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

They added that delays of up to 20 minutes are expected on I-15 northbound from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday as drivers return home from the celebration of the holiday.

As on other holidays, UDOT will cease construction and open almost all lanes to reduce traffic problems. However, the agency says drivers should prepare for some closings and reduced speeds across the state this weekend. They include:

  • I-15 (Layton through Riverdale): Three lanes are open in both directions between Layton and Riverdale, but the speed limit is reduced to 60 mph due to a work zone in the area. UDOT is expanding I-15 to expand express lanes in both directions in the area. The project is expected to be completed sometime next year.
  • I-80 and I-215 (Salt Lake County): The lanes will be “shifted and narrowed” on I-80 in Salt Lake City between 1300 East and 2300 East and on the connection to the East Belt of I-215. Lane signs are also scheduled to be installed on I-215 south from 3800 South to 4500 South in eastern Salt Lake County this week. Motorists must stay in the two right-hand lanes to access exits 3900 South and 4500 South. According to UDOT, this configuration should remain in place until the beginning of next year and the project should be completed by the end of 2022.
  • State Road 39 (Ogden Canyon): The SR 39 is again reduced to a lane with changing traffic, which is controlled by a temporary signal between Ogden and Pineview Reservoir. For drivers driving through the canyon, delays of up to 15 minutes are expected.
  • US 189 (Provo Canyon): The highway will be reduced to one lane in both directions between Bridal Veil Falls and Vivian Park as a new concrete median is being built. The road closures are expected to last until mid-December.

State traffic engineers also expect national and state parks to be “heavier than normal” this weekend, which can also lead to heavy traffic on the streets of the various parks.

“UDOT reminds drivers to be careful behind the wheel and do their part to make travel safer for everyone by staying vigilant, wearing seat belts, removing distractions and taking breaks to avoid drowsy driving,” the agency wrote in a statement.

Utah gasoline prices are up 60% from last Thanksgiving

According to the AAA, gasoline prices in Utah are down from summer vacation travel levels, but have increased significantly since last Thanksgiving. The group says the average price for regular gasoline is about $ 3.69 a gallon this week, up 60% from $ 2.30 a gallon at the same time last year.

President Joe Biden ruled Tuesday that 50 million barrels of gas be released to cut energy bills, but that is unlikely to affect prices this week. The current price of gas in Utah is about 29 cents per gallon above the national average.

The average cost of diesel is $ 4.05 per gallon, 41 cents above the national average.

The AAA average also varies from county to county. Where is the cheapest and most expensive gasoline market in Utah this week?

Cheapest

  • Sevier District: $ 3.49
  • Sanpete County: $ 3.57
  • Uintah County: $ 3.61
  • County Duchesne: $ 3.62
  • Juab County: $ 3.63

Most expensive

  • Daggett County: $ 4.01
  • Beaver County: $ 3.93
  • Garfield County: $ 3.91
  • Wayne County: $ 3.89
  • Piute County: $ 3.85

Those who want to leave a state but stay in the West are likely to continue to pay more at the pump than others in the country. AAA reports that the West continues to have the highest gas prices in the US

For those traveling east of Utah, prices come down. Oklahoma, for example, has the cheapest average price in the nation this week at $ 2.98 a gallon.

This is how it looks in the region:

  • Arizona: $ 3.74
  • California: $ 4.71
  • Colorado: $ 3.47
  • Idaho: $ 3.68
  • Nevada: $ 3.97
  • New Mexico: $ 3.35
  • Oregon: $ 3.78
  • Washington: $ 3.88
  • Wyoming: $ 3.47

Be prepared to pay a little extra at the gas pump this holiday weekend.

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