Smooth Start to Holiday Journeys

By Joshua Zumbrun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007

One of the busiest travel weekends got off to a mostly trouble-free start yesterday.

"It's been busy, but things have been going smoothly," said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Roads, rails and the skies are expected to be clogged this weekend, second only to Thanksgiving in traffic volume.

Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport were anticipating heavy traffic tomorrow, and crowds were expected at airports on the Wednesday and Sunday after Christmas.

"Over this holiday, travel is more spread out, so you don't have as many people coming to the airports in a shortened time frame like at Thanksgiving," Hamilton said.

In Maryland, lanes that have been closed for construction will be reopened for holiday traffic, said Valerie Burnette Edgar, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

"Lots of people are out on the roads, so we encourage people to slow down and buckle up and drive carefully and, of course, don't drink and drive," Edgar said. "Plan ahead and allow plenty of time to get where you are going."

One major traffic jam was reported yesterday. An accident on the Capital Beltway, just before the New Hampshire Avenue exit, caused the outer loop to be closed for 45 minutes while crews cleared the wreckage.

Three people were taken to hospitals after two vehicles collided shortly before 2 p.m. Traffic on the Beltway was delayed for hours.

Train traffic was expected to be heaviest this morning, with many trains sold out, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. But for those making plans at the last minute, Cliff said, "we have plenty of space for people who need to get where they're going this weekend."

Today is expected to be cloudy with fog and drizzle, and rain is possible in the afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service is forecasting an 80 percent chance of rain for tomorrow.

And for Christmas?

"It's not going to be white," said Jim Decarufel, a meteorologist for the weather service. Monday's highs are forecast in the 50s, and Christmas is expected to be sunny and in the upper 40s.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company