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Slick roads eyed for holiday

Staff report
November 23. 2013 9:15PM

It's as much a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey dinner: getting to the table. Wednesday will be the biggest travel day across the country, with AAA Northern New England predicting 1.65 million New Englanders will use the highways and byways during the holiday.

Weather forecasters are urging motorists to get an early start, however, because it looks like a storm is heading our way.

"If you can, leave Tuesday, especially if you're heading south," said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. "Right now, our best guess is rain or snow on Wednesday, depending on the exact track. Hopefully, it will miss us completely."

Today, strong winds could cause scattered power outages, he said. New Hampshire will then see the weather turn calmer Monday and Tuesday before a storm could hit.

Meanwhile, state police are warning motorists to stay sober while behind the wheel.

"With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend approaching, state police remind all travelers that troopers will have an enhanced presence statewide working to prevent accidents and apprehend impaired and dangerous drivers," police said.

Police urged people to take the keys away from someone who is impaired and insists on driving.

Drivers heading south on Interstate 93 should take note of construction.

Construction crews plan to work on the southbound Exit 2 off-ramp in Salem on Tuesday night. The work is part of the ongoing 20-mile highway improvement and expansion project.

Crews will begin working on opening a temporary southbound off-ramp between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 5 a.m. Wednesday.

The work of painting stripes on the new ramp and removing barriers is weather-dependent and can be expected to take a few hours.

Opening a new temporary off-ramp will allow crews to close the existing southbound Exit 2 off-ramp and reroute that traffic onto a temporary southbound bridge over Pelham Road.

Southbound through-traffic has been using the temporary bridge since it opened two weeks ago. Once all traffic has been rerouted onto the temporary bridge, workers will remove the existing bridge - one of the last red-listed bridges in the highway corridor - and build a new one.

The ramp work will require I-93 southbound traffic to be reduced to one lane while work is being done Tuesday night.

Motorists are asked to be alert while traveling through the area.

The I-93 Salem-to-Manchester Expansion Improvement Project began in 2005. The $770 million project spans more than 20 miles from the Massachusetts border to the Interstate 293 split in Manchester.

To date, the project is on time and on budget, with $350 million in projects either completed or underway, said project manager Peter Stamnas.

The project involves expanding the corridor to three lanes each way while providing the footprint to add a fourth lane if needed in the future.

The project also involves renovating, rebuilding or expanding more than 40 bridges.

So far, the expanded three-lane highway is open to southbound traffic from Exit 2 to the Massachusetts line.

By 2016, all north and southbound lanes of the expanded highway should be open from the state line to Exit 3 in Windham - a distance of about eight miles. This would mark the completion of the southern tier of the project. The rest of the project has a scheduled completion date of 2020 contingent on continued funding.

Nationally, the second-busiest travel day will be Dec. 1, with people returning home after celebrating the holiday with family and friends.

Weather Holiday or vacation Travel and commuting Thanksgiving

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