Record-breaking travel ahead |

Record-breaking travel ahead

by Amy Alonzo
A Ford pulls a travel-trailer south on Highway 395 in Minden. Area roads are expected to be busy during the Fourth of July weekend.
Brad Coman |

Get your air conditioners ready — this weekend is expected to be hot and the roads should be crowded.

“It’s going to be a record year,” according to Mike Blasky, spokesman for AAA Nevada. “This is going to be a historic Fourth of July in terms of raw numbers.”

Nationwide, 44.2 million Americans are expected to travel this weekend, a 2.9 percent increase over last year’s numbers. About 85 percent of travelers, or 37.5 million, are expected to hit their vacation destinations by car. The holiday weekend is considered Friday through Tuesday.

While temperatures are cooling slightly from last week’s heat wave, the National Weather Service still predicts highs in the 90s.

Blasky urged drivers heading on trips of any length to carry water and a cell phone charger “so they aren’t stuck alone on the road. Have a plan and have people know where you are going.”

One thing that is spurring the record travel predictions is a drop in gas prices, Blasky said.

“Gas prices have been dropping the last 20 days,” he said.

As of Tuesday the national average for gas prices was $2.25. In Nevada, the average price for regular gasoline was $2.68. While higher than the national average, it’s still down from Nevada’s average of $2.73 a month ago.

Locally, visitors to the Tahoe area should expect heavy traffic in the Round Hill, Zephyr Cove, lower Kingsbury Grade and the Stateline Casino Core areas.

Highway 50 near Cave Rock was impacted over the winter by significant rockfall. Two concrete barriers stabilizing the area will remain in place over the weekend, said Meg Ragonese, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

“Traffic will continue to be narrowed to one lane in each direction in the Logan Shoals area just north of Cave Rock as NDOT enhances slope stability,” she said.

The roadwork could have an impact on revelers traveling to Nevada Beach near Zephyr Cove to watch fireworks. Elks Point Road, the access point to Nevada Beach, will be closed at the intersection of Highway 50 no later than 4:30 p.m., according to Douglas County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Burnadette Smith. Only residents or those with camping permits will be permitted to enter after 4:30, and the road will remain closed until the end of the fireworks display.

In the valley, “there isn’t anything that would specifically impact 395 drivers,” Ragonese said.

No alcohol is allowed at Nevada Beach during the holiday, and a no-alcohol policy is in effect at Zephyr Cove Beach Resort and Campground from 10 a.m. until midnight on the fourth. Fines of up to $5,000 may be imposed for possessing alcohol at the locations.

Last year there were no reported deaths on Nevada highways over the Fourth of July weekend, and “we’re obviously hoping for something similar this year,” Ragonese said. Preventing people from driving while intoxicated is imperative to that end, she said.

As of June 2 there have been 127 fatalities on Nevada roads, as compared to 122 during the same period in 2016. The most recent fatality was June 2.

In addition, county officials want to remind residents that possessing or discharging fireworks is illegal in Douglas County. The fine for possessing or discharging fireworks is up to $1,000 and six months in jail.