Missouri’s holiday travel rush is here. AAA auto club predicts the Christmas and New Year’s travel numbers could come close to the records set in 2019.

An estimated 115 million people are expected to travel nationwide this year. Of that, 104 million will be on the roadway.

Missouri law enforcement agencies will be out patrolling the roads. Officers will be looking for speeders, aggressive drivers, drivers on their phones, and drunk drivers.

Airports are expected to be the busiest they’ve ever been over the Christmas and New Year’s travel period. AAA projects 7.5 million air travelers this holiday season. It says average ticket prices are slightly lower than last year.

Kansas City International Airport is expecting a near-record number of passengers flying into and out of KCI through January 2nd. Passengers at KCI and St. Louis Lambert International Airport are advised to arrive 2 hours before departure. Fox 2 in St. Louis says people were lining up at the Delta and American Airlines terminals as early as 4 a.m. today.

The number of people traveling by other modes, such as bus, train, and cruise, is projected to surpass 2019. AAA expects more than 4 million Americans will take alternative transportation over Christmas and New Year’s. According to AAA, demand for cruises has skyrocketed post-pandemic.

The best and worst times to drive over the holidays in Missouri?

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, said there will be several days of potentially bad traffic during the 10-day holiday time. Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, will be the most congested days on the road. INRIX also says Saturday, December 30, will have an increase in traffic compared to a normal Saturday.

INRIX says nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 20% longer. In major metros, drivers could experience nearly double the typical delays.

The best times to hit the road are before lunchtime or after 7pm.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will restrict most construction on interstates and state highways from noon on Friday, Dec. 22 until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26. Restrictions will still be in place in areas where there are permanent barriers and if required, crews will close lanes for emergency maintenance.

The average price of regular-unleaded in Missouri is $2.71 cents a gallon – that’s 4 cents a gallon higher than it was a week ago. AAA places the blame on “robust gas demand and elevated oil prices.”

The cheapest average price in Missouri is $2.55 a gallon in rural Daviess and Washington counties. Relatively low prices can also be found in Joplin and on the west side of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Diesel is still dropping in Missouri, as the average price is $3.60 a gallon, down 6 cents from a week ago.

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