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Traveling on I-95? Check This Website…

For the first time this year, Thanksgiving travelers on the nation's busiest highway corridor will have access to live traffic information and drive times from Florida to Maine.

Before heading out to Grandma's, drivers on Interstate 95 and other East Coast highways can get up-to-the-minute speed and congestion information for 24 metropolitan areas and state-to-state drive times by visiting www.i95travelinfo.net.

The interactive site covers about 5,000 miles of roads, including 1,917 miles of 1-95. It's a joint project of the I-95 Corridor Coalition and the federal Department of Transportation. Traffic data is provided by INRIX of Washington state.

"It will give you real-time information, so if you see heavy congestion, you can choose an alternate route," says George Schoener, executive director of the I-95 Corridor Coalition, which represents state departments of transportation, toll authorities and other transportation interests along the corridor.

The site, where visits have doubled since last week, is designed for standard PC browsers. "But it is something you could access from your cellphone if you have the ability to surf the Web," INRIX spokesman Jim Bak says.

This year's holiday traffic crush - on I-95 and across the USA - is likely to be less grueling than usual.

Auto club AAA projects a slight uptick, 1.4%, in people driving this Thanksgiving - but that follows last year's 25% drop from Thanksgiving 2007.

It's still better to leave early or late, experts say. Congestion in urban areas is more severe and begins earlier on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, according to Bak and Tim Lomax, a research engineer at the Texas Transportation Institute.

"We liken this to a Friday afternoon congestion problem on steroids," Lomax says.

Holiday drivers making the trek to and from relatives' homes should buckle up and drive sober: Police across the country will be launching stepped-up efforts against seat belt violations and drunken driving, says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "It's one of the deadliest times of the year to drive, just because of the volume," he says.

For those returning home Sunday, the drive back should be pleasant. "For most of the country, it's going to be good traveling weather," says meteorologist Brian Korty of the National Weather Service.

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