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Numerous Local Road Closures Planned for Rolling Thunder

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means that it is also Rolling Thunder weekend here in the D.C. area.

Thousands of bikers are expected to stream into the area over the next couple of days. The event, intended to raise awareness of American service members who were prisoners of war or remain missing in action, is prompting a number of road closures in Arlington.

The first of the planned closures is on 23rd Street S. between S. Eads and Fern streets. Starting today and running through Sunday, the Crystal City Sports Pub and Crystal City BID are hosting a free outdoor concert series dubbed “Crystal City Thunder,” from 4-8 p.m. each night.

More from the Arlington County Police Department:

Motorists using S. 23rd Street can detour around the closure by using S. 22nd Street (one block north of S. 23rd Street) via S. Eads Street or S. Fern Street, depending on their direction of travel.

Parking will also be restricted in the same location from 3:00 PM Friday afternoon until 9:00 PM Sunday night, except for motorcycles.  Motorcyclists are encouraged to back their cycle to the curb and line up in an orderly fashion to maximize the space.  Vehicles in violation will be subject to tow. If you are towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222.

Barrels and other traffic management equipment will be deployed in the area.  Motorists are reminded to follow police direction and be aware of the extra motorcycle traffic associated with this event and the Rolling Thunder Rally.

The police department is also warning of “severe” traffic impacts from a temporary closure of eastbound I-66 Saturday morning, “to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery.”

The Arlington County Police Department is informing the public that traffic on I-66 Eastbound on Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 8:15 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. will be severely impacted by temporary closures to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery. Route 110 southbound and Washington Boulevard (Route 27) near Columbia Pike will also incur temporary traffic disruptions.

In addition, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., traffic in the Crystal City area may experience delays as another veterans’ group is escorted through the area.

On Sunday, Washington Blvd and the Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic for the Rolling Thunder Rally. More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department and Virginia State Police will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 27, 2018, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.  From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area during the Memorial Day weekend.

For questions or concerns, please contact Lieutenant Steve Meincke at 703-228-4148.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, is reminding drivers to keep an eye out for motorcyclists during the event.

During the Memorial Day holiday weekend, waves of motorcyclists, as far as the eye can see, will participate in the annual Rolling Thunder procession to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.   As a result, “motorists could encounter possible delays if operating in the vicinity of this event and may wish to consider alternative routes,” warns the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). With an upturn in motorcyclists in the region this weekend, area motorists should know how to detect and respond to so many bikers sharing the road, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. For safety’s sake, motorists should also listen for the sound of motorcycles approaching in blind spots during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX.

Tragically, “motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities,” highway safety advocates warn.  Advocates point the finger of blame at the rising age of motorcyclists, traffic congestion, and distracted driving as overarching factors in the number of roadway deaths of motorcyclists. Other factors include alcohol impairment and recreational marijuana and drug impairment.  “In 2016, one-quarter of motorcyclists who died had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, the highest percentage of any vehicle type,” according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “Data suggest that trend continued in 2017.”

“Across the nation and around the Washington metro area, motorcyclists are disproportionately vulnerable to losing their lives and limbs in traffic crashes,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Although the average motorcyclist rides his or her bike between 3,000 to 6,000 miles per year, motorcycle riders and passengers are ‘about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, and six times as likely to be injured,’ research shows.”

Watch out for motorcyclists during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX. Motorcycle fatalities soared to the highest level in a decade in Virginia during 2017, according to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) data. All told, 107 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes on Virginia roads in 2017, as motorcycle fatalities increased nearly 50 percent over 2016, when 72 motorcyclists died in motorcycle-related crashes across Virginia, according to the 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report. Of the 1,794 motorcycle riders injured in crashes in 2017, almost half, 830 bikers or 46.2 percent, were age 41 or above. Motorcycle crashes comprised 1.7 percent of all traffic crashes in the state, but 12.7 percent all fatalities.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Morning Notes

Memorial Day Closures — Arlington County offices, courts, schools, community centers and other facilities will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Metro, meanwhile, will operate on a Sunday schedule on Monday. [Arlington County, WMATA]

Spraygrounds Opening Today — Arlington’s spraygrounds will open for the summer today. The water play areas are located at Drew Park, Hayes Park, Lyon Village Park and Virginia Highlands Parks. [Arlington County]

Flags in at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Members of the Old Guard from Ft. Myer completed their annual “flags-in” pre-Memorial Day tradition of placing a flag at every grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. [Stars & Stripes]

Arlington Has Most Expensive Home Ever in D.C. Area — The priciest residential property ever to be listed in the D.C. area is partially located in Arlington. The Falls, the riverfront estate of late AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey, is on the market for $62.95 million. The 3.2 acre property on Chain Bridge Road straddles the Arlington-Fairfax line and includes an original Frank Lloyd Wright home as its guest house. [Preservation Arlington, UrbanTurf, Wall Street Journal]

County Hires New Assistant County Manager  — Updated at 11:15 a.m. — Arlington County hired attorney Gurjit Chima to be the county’s Assistant County Manager for Human Rights and EEO. “[Chima] will be instrumental in advancing human rights and related initiatives across County government and in the Arlington community, consistent with our mission of diversity and inclusion,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Clarendon Company Named a Best Workplace in U.S. — Clarendon-based Enterprise Knowledge has made an Inc. magazine list of the Best Workplaces in 2018. The management consultancy has some of the “coolest company perks,” according to the magazine, including “tuition help, gym memberships, and company cellphones.” It also “reimburses employees up to $3,000 for the purchase of a hybrid car.” [Inc., Enterprise Knowledge]

County Touts Oak Grove Park Upgrades — “Through a Neighborhood Conservation project, Oak Grove Park recently underwent some major improvements to its playground equipment… The updates to the park include a ‘tot lot’ and a play area for older kids, an improved picnic shelter, site furnishings, a water fountain, many new trees, and biorentention for stormwater management.” [Arlington County, YouTube]

Marymount Farmers Market Starts This Weekend — The Marymount Farmers Market will kick off Saturday, serving the university and nearby North Arlington neighborhoods. The market will take place weekly through November. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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Rolling Thunder Set to Return to Arlington for Memorial Day Rally

Thousands of motorcyclists are gearing up for the 31st edition of the annual “Rolling Thunder” ride through Arlington and D.C. in a few weeks.

Bikers with the veterans group are scheduled to gather in Arlington once more this Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. The Rolling Thunder headquarters is again set for the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, with events planned throughout the weekend.

On Friday, May 25, riders will roll into town and then gather for a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the National Cathedral and a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Sunday, May 27 will feature the main event, as bikers convene in the Pentagon parking lots early that morning before riding across the Memorial Bridge into D.C. for a rally, which will include speakers and musical performances around the Reflecting Pool. Country artist Rockie Lynne is set to headline the concert.

The group’s mission is to raise awareness about American prisoners of war and service members who remain missing in action, according to the Rolling Thunder website.

Anyone looking to celebrate Rolling Thunder’s arrival can also gather for free outdoor concerts hosted by the Crystal City Sports Pub for the entire weekend.

Come celebrate Memorial Day weekend and Rolling Thunder on 23rd Street! We’ll have live music, cold beer and good food all weekend from 4-8pm on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.

The legendary Roadducks will be jamming all weekend, so come by for a bit, or party for three days straight. Either way, a good time will be had by all!

This outdoor event is FREE to attend and there will be a cash bar and food available for purchase.

Location: 536 23rd St. S (the parking lot across from the Crystal City Sports Pub)

Rolling Thunder typically causes road closures around Arlington the day of the main rally, not to mention the occasional noise complaint from neighbors. County police have yet to release exact details on the changes in traffic patterns.

Flickr pool photo by Michelle Dupray

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Morning Notes

Family Still Searching for Missing Arlington Woman — Family and friends spent the weekend searching for Katherine Hawald, who went missing Thursday, last seen in Arlington. Volunteers checked places Hawald would hang out and handed out flyers, enlisting others to assist in the search effort. [Fox 5]

Veep Participates in Veterans Day Ceremony — Vice President Mike Pence participated in the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. “From the hour of our nation’s birth, our best and bravest have stepped forward to defend our freedom,” Pence said. “And as we speak, a new generation of American veterans is being forged across the wider world.” [Dept. of Defense]

Millennials Moving Out = Lower Rents — “More millennials are leaving Greater Washington than moving in, and that could spell trouble for commercial real estate developers across the region. Those young professionals helped the region avoid oversaturation of new apartments, but the diminishing pool will likely shrink demand for those units, among other potential consequences.” [Washington Business Journal]

Which Restaurants Are Open on Thanksgiving — Those hoping to avoid the hassle of making a turkey at home have a few options for dining out in Arlington on Thanksgiving. [Patch]

Burrito Bros Now Offering Taco — Perhaps responding to competition down the street, the Burrito Bros stand on Columbia Pike — formerly known as Pedro & Vinny’s — is now offering tacos. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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Morning Notes

High School Proposals on the Table in June — A pair of proposals for adding high school seats are on the table at Arlington School Board meetings next month. The board is expected to approve a $3.6 million construction contract for adding 300 seats to Wakefield High School, while Superintendent Patrick Murphy will recommend the board approve a “hybrid” option for adding another 1,300 seats, with 600 seats at the Education Center site near Washington-Lee and 700 at the Arlington Career Center. Despite the added capacity, Murphy expects that it will eventually be necessary to build a new 2,200 seat comprehensive high school to keep up with rising enrollment. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Marriott’s Longest-Standing Employee Is in Crystal City — Cecil Exum, a 79-year-old omelette maker at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, is Marriott’s longest-standing employee. He’s been with the company for 61 years, since the Marriott family ran a “Hot Shoppes” root beer stand and opened its first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington. [Washington Post]

POTUS at ANC on Memorial Day — “President Donald Trump honored those who lost their lives serving the nation as he participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Monday and told emotional stories of just a few who perished.” [Daily Mail]

Cars Towed During Clarendon Memorial Day Ceremony — Some veterans attending the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the war memorial in Clarendon reportedly had their cars towed from a bank parking lot nearby. Del. Patrick Hope (D) tweeted photos of the cars being towed and called it “disgusting.” He directed the tweet at Del. Tim Hugo (R), the sponsor of the bill (now law) that blocked Arlington County from enforcing a “second signature” requirement for certain trespass tows. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Memorial Day Closures in Arlington

Arlington County schools and government offices will close Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day.

County offices, courts, libraries, human services, the sheriff’s office and commuter stores will all be closed for the holiday. All community centers will be closed, while all parks grounds will be open.

Also on Monday:

  • The county’s four spraygrounds will be open all weekend.
  • Three high school pools will be open to the public until 6 p.m.
  • Metered parking will not be enforced.
  • Trash and recycling collections are on a normal schedule.
  • ART’s 41, 45, 51, 55 and 87 routes will operate on Sunday schedules, while all other ART routes will not operate. Standing order rides are not provided on STAR, and the call center is closed. Any rides on Monday and Tuesday must be booked in advance.
  • Metrorail and Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule. The rail system is open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Police will close roads for the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally this weekend. Riders are scheduled to arrive later today at the event’s headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

On Sunday, Arlington and Virginia State Police will close Washington Blvd from 7 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m. from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge. Meanwhile, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Police say they expect higher attendance than usual at the rally and other events for Rolling Thunder’s 30th anniversary.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Tomorrow: Flags-In at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery

Thousands of soldiers will participate in a time-honored tradition at Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow: the placement of flags at each headstone and columbarium for Memorial Day.

There are more than 400,000 interred at the cemetery, but soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment — The Old Guard — will place a flag in front of each in about four hours, rain or shine.

The monumental task is known as “Flag-In,” and is conducted every year prior to Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen military heroes. This year, it’s happening tomorrow (Thursday) starting at 1 p.m.

The event also includes a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“While the public is welcome to observe the Flags-In tradition, the public cannot participate in the flag placement,” the cemetery noted in a news release.

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Rolling Thunder to Rumble Into Town Next Week

Thousands of motorcycle riders are set to descend again on Arlington and D.C. for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder rally.

The bikers are scheduled to arrive next Friday, May 26, with many gathering around the event’s headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in the afternoon before a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the National Cathedral and a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

On Saturday the bikers will depart Crystal City around 10 a.m. and head to a free barbecue at a Harley-Davidson dealer in Fort Washington, Maryland. A wreath laying is also planned at the Navy Memorial in D.C. later that morning.

On Sunday, the group will gather en masse in the Pentagon parking lots before riding across the Memorial Bridge into D.C. for Rolling Thunder’s main event, which will include speakers and musical performances around the Reflecting Pool. Among those expected to perform is country artist Billy Ray Cyrus.

This is the 30th year of Rolling Thunder, which was founded to bring attention to plight of military service members missing or imprisoned during the Vietnam War.

From the group’s website: “[We] are united in the cause to bring full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: ‘We Will Not Forget.'”

A number of road closures are expected on Sunday to accommodate the bikers. Though the event has largely gone off without a hitch over the past few years, some Arlington residents have complained about the frequent rumble of motorcycles that one can hear around highways and some main roads throughout the weekend.

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ACPD to Begin Seat Belt Enforcement Campaign Next Week

Arlington County Police will again be stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws, starting next week.

ACPD’s enforcement campaign, part of the national Click It or Ticket program, will run through the Memorial Day holiday, from Monday, May 22 to Sunday, June 4.

More from a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is once again reminding motorists to Click It or Ticket. As part of the national seat belt enforcement campaign, law enforcement agencies around the country will be stepping up enforcement from May 22 to June 4, just ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

Every day, unbuckled motorists are losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes. As we approach Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season, we want to make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash, buckling up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of the 22,441 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2015 were unrestrained. At night from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., that number soared to 57 percent of those killed. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

In 2015, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 13,941 lives of occupants ages 5 and older according to the NHTSA. That’s why motorists are encouraged to buckle up every time on every ride.

For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.

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Video: Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery

One week ago today, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placed an American flag on every grave in Arlington National Cemetery, as part of the annual Memorial Day weekend tradition of “Flags In.”

Those flags have since been removed, but what they stand for — remembering the sacrifices of our military service members — never fades away.

ARLnow.com captured this year’s Flags In in a brief video, above.

Video by Omar DeBrew

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Morning Notes

Sunday at Arlington National Cemetery (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Memorial Day in Arlington — It was an active Memorial Day in Arlington. Among the activities: a ceremony was held at the Air Force Memorial; volunteers handed out 30,000 roses to families of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery; President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns; and Arlington’s annual Memorial Day ceremony was held in Clarendon. [WJLA, WJLA, New York Daily News, Twitter]

Quarterdeck Owner Opening Restaurant in D.C. –Patrick Morrogh, who owns the Quarterdeck near Rosslyn, is reportedly opening another crab-centric eatery, “District Anchor,” in the former Rumors space at 1900 M Street NW in D.C. [Borderstan]

Arlington Woman Arrested for Handbag Scheme — Federal authorities have charged Arlington resident Praepitcha Smatsorabudh in a major fraud scheme. The feds say Smatsorabudh would buy luxury handbags online, then return high-quality knockoff handbags to the store while selling the real bag online, netting millions of dollars in the process. Per a news report: “The scheme was so prolific that at one point she was a major department store’s top online customer in the entire world.” [ABC News]

Metro Train’s Brakes Catch Fire — Blue Line service was shut down for more than an hour Saturday while Arlington County firefighters battled a brake fire on a Metro train at Arlington Cemetery station. [WJLA]

Home Prices Dip in Arlington — Real estate firm Long and Foster reports a six percent year-over-year drop in Arlington County median home sale prices for April. The number of units sold, however, rose 5 percent. [WTOP]

Deer on the Loose in Virginia Square — A deer was spotted running around the recently-renamed GMU Antonin Scalia Law School in Virginia Square on Monday. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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ARLnow Holiday Weekend Discussion

Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery, just prior to Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is finally here. We hope you enjoy a well-deserved relaxing weekend.

The reason for the holiday, however, is to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Arlington, of course, is home to the Pentagon, the Air Force Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, making Memorial Day a particularly poignant occasion here.

Among those traveling to Arlington to mark the holiday are the motorcycle riders of Rolling Thunder, who are expected to rumble into town en masse today, and a group of Vietnam War vets who are getting a police escort on I-66 tomorrow morning.

There may be traffic disruptions and some extra noise, but on a weekend like this our out of town guests should be welcomed with open arms.

With that, feel free to discuss Memorial Day or any other issue of local interest in the comments.

ARLnow.com will return with some content and breaking news coverage on Monday, and full local news coverage on Tuesday. Please note that Wednesday might be a bit lighter of a news day than usual for us, as we will be moving our office throughout the day.

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Memorial Day Closures in Arlington

Rolling Thunder (Flickr pool photo by Michelle Dupray)Arlington County offices and schools will be closed Monday for the observation of Memorial Day.

All county offices, courts, libraries, and other facilities will be closed for the holiday. Metered parking will not be enforced.

ART buses will operate on a Sunday schedule as will Metrorail and Metrobus. Metrorail will charge off-peak fares all day and parking will be free at all Metro facilities.

Trash and recycling collection, however, will operate on a regular schedule.

Traffic on I-66 eastbound on Saturday is expected to be severely impacted from 10-11:30 a.m. to allow honor groups of Vietnam veterans to travel to Arlington National Cemetery.

On Sunday the Arlington County Police Department will close off Washington Boulevard between I-395 and the Memorial Bridge from 7 a.m.-4 p.m for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. During this time, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

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Photos: Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery

Following an annual Memorial Day weekend tradition, over 230,000 flags were placed at every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery today.

The flags were also placed by 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at the bottom of about 7,000 niche rows in the cemetery’s Columbarium Courts and the Niche Wall.

More than 1,000 soldiers placed flags around the cemetery throughout a four hour timespan. There are over 400,000 total graves in the cemetery. Old Guard soldiers also placed approximately 14,000 flags at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in the District.

The tradition known as “Flags In” has been conducted by the Old guard since 1948. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is the oldest infantry regiment in the U.S. Army and is the official escort to the president.

All flags are removed after Memorial Day.

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Nearly 1 Million D.C. Area Residents Expected to Travel This Weekend

Traffic on I-66

If you’re planning on leaving home this Memorial Day weekend, you’re not alone.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, nearly 966,000 D.C. area residents will travel at least 50 miles for the holiday.

This is the highest travel estimate in the last 11 years and it represents a nearly two percent increase over the 951,000 residents who traveled at this time last year, according to AAA.

The heaviest congestion on area roads is predicted to occur Thursday afternoon between 5-6 p.m.

“The great American road trip is back due to cheaper gas prices. We’re seeing this play out for Memorial Day, with a projected 869,600 people in the Washington metro planning to drive to their Memorial Day destinations,” said AAA’s John Townsend, in a press release.

Gas prices this year are noticeably lower compared to previous years with the national average at $2.29 a gallon, 45 cents cheaper than a year ago. Prices in the D.C. area are also down, averaging $2.28 a gallon, 41 cents cheaper.

Along with the roads, air travel is also expected to increase with a predicted number of 69,100 people expected to fly, a 1.7 percent increase from last year’s numbers.

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