Holiday traffic snarls freeways; fliers soaring smoothly


Holiday weekend travel got off to a busy start on freeways around San Diego County on Wednesday, but fliers going through Lindbergh Field found few delays.

Traffic was already jammed on northbound Interstate 5 along the North County coastline around 1:50 p.m., when an SUV and pickup truck collided just north of the merge with the 805 freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Two ambulances rushed the injured to Scripps Memorial Hospital, but the total number of patients was not immediately available, a dispatcher with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said.

Traffic was also congested on northbound Interstate 15 through Rancho Bernardo, eastbound 78 through San Marcos and eastbound 8 in El Cajon.

At Lindbergh Field, the number of passengers at times seemed to be fewer than normal, mirroring a national dip in air travel, said Steve Schultz of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

“It’s traditionally one of the busiest days of the year” at San Diego’s international airport, said Schultz, who said it didn’t appear that passengers experienced any delays.

Delays caused by weather problems in the northeast and southern Florida did not affect flights departing from or arriving to San Diego as of mid-afternoon.

Working alongside Transportation Security Administration employees, 15 seasonal workers were directing parents traveling with children, the elderly and disabled to the family lane, and seasoned travelers to the diamond lane.

Travel experts advise arriving early because those who miss their flight may have trouble getting another one, with airlines cutting back on their schedules. The number of flights out of San Diego has declined about 6 percent this year.

Flights are expected to be about 90 percent full during the holiday period.

Fliers should remember that carry-on liquids and jells must be in see-through containers no bigger than 3.4 ounces.

To reduce congestion around the terminals, drivers picking up passengers are advised to wait in the free “Cell Phone Lot” on North Harbor Drive.

Overnight construction to replace sewer and water lines on Harbor Drive near Grape Street will have Harbor Drive narrowed to one lane at times between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

About 2.19 million Southern Californians expected to travel at least 50 miles over the Thanksgiving holiday. That represents an 8 percent increase from last year, according to the Automobile Club. A poll showed 85 percent will drive, rather than fly.

About 166,000 travelers will go by air, down one percent from last year, according to the Auto Club.

“People have less discretionary income to travel, and those who are traveling, they are counting their pennies,” Auto Club spokeswoman Marie Montgomery said.

Gasoline prices around San Diego County are averaging around $2.90 per gallon - up about 30 percent compared to last year at this time.