Thanksgiving travel expected to be heaviest since 2007

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Travelers make their way through Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station on Tuesday. Almost 49 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, the most since 2007, according to AAA. | Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Americans took to the roads, air and railways Wednesday for what is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period in almost a decade.

Almost 49 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, the most since 2007, because of lower gas prices and an improving economy, according to AAA.

It will be the first time many have gathered with family and friends since the rancorous election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, and many say they hope they can leave politics behind — even for just a day.

“We’ll avoid it,” said 47-year-old boilermaker Kevin Baumann, who stopped in central Montana Tuesday on his way home to Spokane, Washington, after working on a coal plant in Iowa. “We’ve got bigger things to talk about during the holidays.”

James Arnold, 18, a freshman at Eastern University in Philadelphia, expects that the election will be a big topic of conversation during Thanksgiving dinner at his family’s home in Silver Spring, Md.

“My family loves to talk about things together and the election is something huge,” he said Tuesday while waiting for a train.

“Every holiday they sit down and talk about things like that,” he added. “It’s going to be interesting.”

The weather appeared to be cooperating for the most part, with no significant issues as of Wednesday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said. There was light rain in Chicago, a major airline hub, but delays were only averaging 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

“It looks pretty quiet across the country today; I’ll take it,” Seeley said.

For those who didn’t want to drive, Amtrak was adding some extra trains Wednesday and Sunday between Chicago and Milwaukee, its biggest Midwest corridor, spokesman Marc Magliari said. Some Midwest trains have been sold out for several days, he said.

Associated Press reporters Rebecca Santana in Kenner, Louisiana; Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, and Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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