- The Washington Times - Friday, May 24, 2002

Travelers will find significantly more law enforcement officials patrolling the highways throughout the region over the Memorial Day weekend.

The number of travelers is expected to be higher than totals during the fall and winter holidays, which decreased as a result of the September 11 attacks.

"For Memorial Day, we're back. It really is encouraging to see Americans getting out and traveling again," said Justin McNaull, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman. "We're projecting about a 7 percent drop in air travel. But it is a positive increase, as compared to the 30 percent decrease that we saw during Thanksgiving and Christmas."

To facilitate the anticipated crush, the Virginia Department of Transportation suspended construction work on interstates and major roadways. The suspension begins at noon today . Construction will resume at noon Tuesday.

Seventy-five percent of Virginia State Police troopers will be deployed throughout the weekend, representing a 25 percent increase, compared to the normal number of troopers on the roads, according to Lucy Caldwell, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman.

The increase will be in effect all day today through midnight Monday, she said.

"We'll be enforcing all the laws, looking for aggressive drivers and trying to manage the very heavy traffic and congestion that we expect over the holiday weekend," she said. "Motorists should be prepared for anything they may encounter, which sometimes means delays. And especially with the nice weather, more people will be out on the road, we predict."

Maryland State Police also will deploy additional troopers on the more heavily travelled highways, including Routes 4, 5 and 50, Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway, according to Cpl. Robert A Moroney, a state police spokesman.

Maryland State Police also will operate 13 drunken-driving checkpoints throughout the state, he said.

And troopers also will be looking out to ensure drivers and passengers are wearing seat belts, which is a state law.

"Make sure you buckle up, because there's no warning this holiday weekend." Cpl. Moroney said. "It's all an effort to save lives."

Mr. McNaull said Memorial Day weekend will see about 474,000 vacationers in the region, 83 percent of whom will be hitting the roads, providing for massive numbers of people at tourist destinations.

"Expect the beaches to be crowded, and the roads will be that way, too, on your way there," Mr. McNaull said. "Try to get out of the metro area by 1 p.m. [today] to avoid the convergence of commuters and holiday travelers. Or else you'll need some extra patience."

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