Steamy weather and the falling price of gasoline could clear the way for a record number of travelers on the highways for the July 4 holiday.
The American Automobile Association predicts travelers will be up nationwide this Independence Day to 35.5 million, a 4 percent increase from last year's 34.1 million.
It would be the highest number of auto travelers in the past decade, according to Heather Hunter, an AAA public relations manager.
Because the biggest summer holiday falls in midweek this year, many travelers are stretching the break into a five-day event by wrapping it around a weekend.
Lower gasoline prices also could play a significant role in the expected jump in the number of travelers.
Prices have fallen by about a quarter a gallon over the past month.
Despite the drop in gas prices, many in the region will spend July 4 at state parks close to home -- including Prince Gallitzin near Patton, which is offering visitors a much-improved look.
"People seem to be very happy with what we've done," park manager Dennis Miller said.
"Our attendance is up this year, but is it because of the improvements or the economy?
"I don't know."
When the economy is poor, attendance at Prince Gallitzin and at most of the state's 120 parks goes up.
The state Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources funded improvements to the main beach area and new docks at Prince Gallitzin's Beaver Valley Marina, Miller said.
"I think our boating is up, and the beach has been getting a lot of use," he said.
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