If you are traveling for the holidays, especially by highway, be prepared for a lot of company.

AAA Oregon/Idaho projects that 15.8 million people will traveling 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period in the Pacific Region, a 1.8 percent increase from 2011.

The holiday travel period starts Tuesday and runs through Jan. 1. The Pacific Region includes Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii.

AAA officials said that, nationwide, this holiday period will be the busiest in six years. About 93.3 million Americans are projected to travel, a 1.6 percent increase from last year.

“Despite continued economic challenges; this marks the fourth consecutive year of travel volume growth since the recession-driven decline of the holiday period in December 2008 and January 2009,” said AAA Oregon/Idaho public affairs director Marie Dodds.

About 90 percent of travelers in the Pacific Region will be doing so by automobile, a 1.4 percent increase from 2011. The good news: motorists likely won’t have to deal with icy or snowy conditions like earlier this week.

The National Weather Service forecast for Saturday calls for a high temperature of 43 degrees with an 80 percent chance of precipitation and showers.

The low temperature for Saturday night is expected to be about 37 degrees. Rain is likely.

The good news for highway travelers is that gas prices in Oregon are at their lowest point since February 2011.

According to the AAA, as of Tuesday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Oregon was $3.31. The previous low average this year was $3.38 Jan. 2.

Raju Woodward is the K-12 education reporter for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at 541-758-9526 or raju.woodward@lee.net

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