July 4 traffic steady

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK The highway patrol dealt with prolonged holiday traffic last week and is now preparing for the influx accompanying Jamboree in the Hills.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Highway patrol troopers dealt with prolonged but not particularly intense traffic during the Fourth of July holiday travel season.

Lt. James Faunda, of the St. Clairsville post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, said this year’s holiday falling in the middle of the week meant steady traffic during a prolonged period of time.

“What complicated this year’s Fourth of July was the fact that it fell on a Wednesday,” he said. “That actually spread traffic out over a longer period of time, so for us the Fourth of July started the Tuesday before and ran through the following Sunday.”

He said between the Steubenville and St. Clairsville post, the patrol issued more than 700 traffic citations. Its troopers arrested 15 impaired drivers, wrote 140 seat belt violation tickets and initiated about 1,300 total traffic stops.

Faunda said traffic stop trends during prior Fourth of July holidays do not compare to this year’s stops because of the Wednesday holiday.

“You can’t really compare this year to previous years, only because of the length of time,” he said. “Unless you’re comparing apples to apples, you’re not going to have a good set of data to refer to. Traffic was spread out over a longer period, so we didn’t necessarily have those days where it was bumper to bumper like you’d see on a normal four-day holiday weekend. And traditionally, people on the Fourth of July tend to travel closer to home than they do on Memorial Day or Labor Day. Most people would have had to work the Thursday and Friday after (July 4) unless they took the whole week off work.”

However, he also said he felt incidents of impairment were slightly lower than prior years.

“On previous years where the Fourth has been on or part of a weekend, typically that Friday and that Monday you have heavy traffic and heavy traffic,” said Faunda. “With this one, traffic was moderate to heavy on that Tuesday, and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday it was just hit or miss.”

Faunda said troopers found it was not necessary to be out in full strength every day.

“On a holiday weekend, we try to schedule 100 percent of our troopers to be working, but when you have a time-frame that long it’s almost impossible to do that. On the third and the fourth of July, we actually had 100 percent working the roads, and then after that we were back to our normal manpower.”

But the troopers will have little time to rest, said Faunda, because they are already making preparations for the expected heavy influx of traffic to accompany Jamboree in the Hills next week.