AAA predicts decline in holiday travel

5:34 PM, Jun 29, 2011   |    comments
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For James Beeler, filling his Cadillac's 18 gallon gas tank isn't cheap.

"(It takes) about $60," Beeler said.

A few weeks ago it took $70. Beeler said seeing prices continue to drop is a welcome relief. "It certainly is," he said.

The average price in Knoxville is $3.37 for a gallon of regular unleaded, about $.30 below the national average.

Despite recent drops though, AAA is predicting a nationwide decline of about one million holiday travelers.

"Right now we're looking at a decline of 2.5% of travelers for the Fourth of July this year versus last year," said Stephanie Milani of AAA of East Tennessee.

Experts attribute that drop to year-to-year increases in gas prices.

Those hitting the road will get a break from TDOT, who will suspend construction lane closures from Friday, July 1 through 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5. And Milani said they aren't ruling out some spontaneous travelers.

"It's not going to be out of the question for people to make last minute plans today, leave tomorrow for that long weekend, especially with the Fourth on a Monday and you get that extra day," she said.

Especially with the price at the pump getting less painful.

"It helps everybody's pocketbook," Beeler said.

Drivers can find some extra help from Wal-Mart. The retail giant will be offering $.10 off per gallon for customers using the store's credit card or pre-paid gift cards. The promotion runs from June 29 through September 30.

Discounted gas will be available at their locations on Chapman Highway in Knoxville, Highway 411 in Maryville, and Highway 321 in Lenoir City.

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