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Travelling this weekend? Expect company

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Travelers taking to the highways over the holiday weekend can expect a lot of company, roadwork delays and high law enforcement visibility. AAA of Northern California estimates a 19.3 percent increase over last year in Californians traveling 50 miles or more for the Fourth of July weekend. Statewide, more than 3.5 million will drive to their holiday destinations, a 20.2 increase over last year, AAA said in a press release. More than 306,000 will travel by air and another 428,000 will use alternate modes of transportation. To monitor all that extra traffic, the California Highway Patrol will be on maximum enforcement from 6 p.m. Friday to midnight Monday, according to David Martinez, Auburn-area CHP public information officer. “Basically it means that all available officers will be working over the weekend,” Martinez said. “Our goal is just to be out there throughout the county instead of concentrating on one specific area.” The maximum enforcement period extends through July 5 because Monday is the state holiday and many travelers will be returning home on that day, he said. To help cut down on DUI incidents, AAA’s Tipsy Tow program will offer free tows for drinking drivers in Northern California from 6 p.m. July 4 to 6 a.m. July 5. Members and non-members can call (800) 222-4357 for a free tow of up to five miles. For those planning to spend the holiday picnicking, camping or hiking, it’s the individual’s responsibility to be aware of rules that are in place, Cal Fire spokeswoman Chelsea Fox said Wednesday. “Depending on your destination, if you’re in a national forest or state park, always call ahead and check the rules of where you’re going,” Fox said. Depending on the level of fire danger, the campground or park may not allow campfires or even motorcycles, she said. “Cal Fire strives to have the public informed, so we have signs in place and each campground should have those rules posted very clearly,” she said. For those who are planning to do some work around the home, a residential burn ban is in place as of July 1. “Residential burning in creating defensible space can no longer happen until we receive enough rain, likely in mid-to-late October,” Fox said. “Here in Placer County, we’re at a moderate-to-high level fire danger. On the valley floor, we’re seeing a higher fire danger because grass is already starting to cure, not holding much moisture and burning very quickly.” Interstate 80 travelers planning to visit the Sierra or Reno over the holiday weekend should factor in extra driving time or take alternate routes. Caltrans has advised that motorists can expect road-construction delays of up to 45 minutes because of lane restrictions and narrowed lanes between Truckee and the Nevada state line. Motorists should avoid travel in the construction area from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Caltrans said in a press release. Alternate routes include Highway 50 to Highway 395, Highway 70 north to Highway 395 south or I-80 east to Highway 267 then south to Highway 431. From 10 a.m. Thursday July 1 to 6 a.m. Sunday, July 4, westbound I-80 in the construction area will have one lane available and eastbound will have two lanes. From 6 a.m. Sunday, July 4 through 10 p.m. Monday, July 5, westbound will have two lanes and eastbound will have one lane. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.