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More than 1.3 million Virginians are expected to travel later this week.

The roads are expected to be packed for the Fourth of July holiday.

AAA predicts a record-breaking number of travelers on roads, rails and through the air over the Independence Day holiday. Nine out of every 10 travelers will drive.

The auto club predicts that 1.3 million Virginians and nearly 49 million people across the country will travel over the holiday period, which it defines as Wednesday through Sunday. The Virginia numbers would be the most July 4 travelers since AAA started tracking holiday travel figures in 2000, the auto club said.

Cheaper gas might be enticing some travelers as national prices at the pump have dropped seven straight weeks, Gasbuddy.com reported Monday. AAA reported that Virginia’s average gas price of $2.40 a gallon is 20 cents lower than a year ago, making the state’s fuel cost the 10th lowest in the nation.

A Philadelphia gas refinery explosion June 21 could impact gas prices, though. The refinery, the largest on the East Coast, is not expected to reopen and that could lead to gas prices increasing by a few cents, according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

For July 4 travelers who drive, the trip should be eased somewhat statewide as the Virginia Department of Transportation will suspend most work zones and lane closures during the holiday travel period, Wednesday through Friday.

VDOT also offers a travel trend map that could make the trip easier. According to VDOT, moderate to heavy congestion is expected to happen between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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