Out2News Traffic & Travel

Martin Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Senior Resource Association Honored with Awards

22 Sept MC Metro Planning

Agencies recognized for exceptional transportation disadvantaged program and services
Stuart – The Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged recently recognized the Martin Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) as the 2022 Planning Agency of the Year. This award recognizes the planning agency that has gone beyond their scope to assist transportation disadvantaged citizens in their area. Martin MPO has included transportation disadvantaged planning in its local plans and worked closely with the Senior Resource Association, Martin County’s Community Transportation Coordinator, to overcome local transportation barriers and to advocate on behalf of the transportation disadvantaged population.

The Senior Resource Association (SRA) was recognized as the 2022 Urban Community Transportation Coordinator, performing in an outstanding manner as part of the fully coordinated system for the transportation disadvantaged (TD) community. The SRA operates Martin Community Coach which is a door-to-door transportation system for TD-eligible riders. Eligibility is based on age (65 years or older), disability or income. Martin Community Coach accommodates riders who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, service animals and other mobility aides.

“The awards provide us with another avenue to share information about the important transportation services available in our community,” said Beth Beltran, MPO Administrator. In fiscal year 21-22, the Martin Community Coach provided 10,015 trips for TD-eligible riders in the area. However, due to funding, riders were limited to 3 round trips per week. With additional grant funding in place for fiscal year 22-23, Martin Community Coach can now provide unlimited trips for TD-eligible riders, enhancing quality of life and access to critical services.

The Transportation Disadvantaged Program is a coordinated state-wide effort which groups riders together for a shared ride service. Transportation services are available in all 67 Florida counties for those who are eligible and have no access to transportation. Federal, state and local agencies join together to provide necessary transportation to medical appointments, employment, educational and other life sustaining services.

To find out more information about Martin County’s TD program, visit www.martincommunitycoach.com, email martincc@sramail.org with your questions or call 772-469-2063.

Understanding The Flashing Yellow Arrow

Lane Closures

22 Sept Causeway 1
22 Sept 3 Oct Drainage

Martin County Traffic Report Sept. 23 through Sept. 30

FDOT Open

MARTIN, ST. LUCIE Fla. – Treasure Coast traffic will be affected this week by ongoing construction projects and maintenance work in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials report. Please note, any full road, ramp or bridge closures have been highlighted below.

CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
MARTIN COUNTY
(Hobe Sound, Palm City, City of Stuart, Stuart, Jensen Beach, Jupiter Island, Port Salerno, Rio, Indiantown, Tequesta, Town of Sewalls Point)

1. State Road 714/SW Martin Highway Widening Project
Description: This 1.127-mile widening project began on Aug. 6, 2021. Project improvements include widening SR 714/SW Martin Highway from a two-lane undivided rural roadway to a four-lane divided urban roadway, widening the bridge over Florida’s Turnpike, constructing seven-foot buffered bike lanes and six-foot sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, and installing signing, signalization, and lighting upgrades.
Cost/Completion: $21.3 million. Completion is expected in fall 2024.
Traffic Impact:
• The westbound bike lanes on SR 714/SW Martin Highway are closed. Cyclists and motorists should share the road.
• The eastbound dedicated right turn lane on SR 714/SW Martin Highway to the Turnpike entrance will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16 for curb removal and grading work. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

2. State Road 5/U.S. Highway 1 Resurfacing Project
Description: This 1.426-mile resurfacing project from SR 732/NW Jensen Beach Boulevard to the Martin County/St. Lucie County line began on Monday, May 2, 2022. Project improvements include milling and resurfacing the existing roadway; adding bicycle lanes within the project limits: 5-feet wide from SR 732/NW Jensen Beach Boulevard to NW Sunset Boulevard and 7-feet wide from NW Sunset Boulevard to the Martin County/St. Lucie County Line; upgrading curb ramps to meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards; and upgrading pedestrian signals, intersection lighting, pavement markings, and signing to current standards.
Cost/Completion: $3,071,783.35. Completion is expected spring 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• One lane in each direction on U.S. 1 from NW Jensen Beach Boulevard to the Martin County/St. Lucie County line will be closed Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lighting/signal boring, concrete removal and replacement, and sign base installation. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

3. State Road 76/Kanner Highway Resurfacing Project
Description: This 1.4-mile resurfacing project from north of Cabana Point Circle to SR 5/US 1 in the City of Stuart will began on Monday, July 25, 2022. Project improvements include milling and resurfacing the existing roadway; some minor widening will occur along northbound and southbound SR 76/Kanner Highway; upgrading crosswalks and curb ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards; installing sidewalks, signage and pavement markings; upgrading pedestrian lighting at two signalized intersections at SR 714/Monterey Road and SR 5/US 1; and, upgrading or restoring drainage pipes and replacing sections of the City of Stuart’s watermain at various locations.
Cost/Completion: $5,064,094.62. Completion is expected summer 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• One southbound outside lane of SR 76/Kanner Highway from the Monterey Road intersection to SR 5/US 1 may be closed around-the-clock through Sunday, Oct. 2, for drainage, sidewalk, and lighting work.
• One northbound outside lane of SR 76/Kanner Highway from the intersection of Monterey Road to SR 5/US 1 is closed around-the-clock through Sunday, Oct. 2 for drainage, sidewalk, and lighting work.
• One southbound inside lane of SR 76/Kanner Highway from Monterey Animal Clinic to the intersection of Monterey Road may be closed around-the-clock beginning Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 2, for traffic separator work.
• One northbound inside lane of SR 76/Kanner Highway from Culver’s Restaurant to the intersection of Monterey Road may be closed around-the-clock beginning Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 2 for traffic separator work.
• Two northbound outside lanes of SR 76/Kanner Highway from the Monterey Road intersection to SR 5/US 1 will be closed nightly through Sunday, Oct. 2 from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. for drainage, sidewalk, and lighting work.
• Two southbound lanes of SR 76/Kanner Highway from the intersection of Monterey Road to SR 5/US 1 will be closed nightly through Sunday, Oct. 2 from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. for drainage, sidewalk and lighting work.
• One westbound lane of SR 714/SW Monterey Road from the Monterey Shopping Plaza driveway to the European Kitchen and Bath driveway may be closed Monday through Friday through Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lighting foundation installation.
• One eastbound lane of SR 714/Monterey Road between Riverwatch Marina and SR 76/S Kanner Highway may be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday through Tuesday, Sept. 20, for lighting foundation installation.
• One eastbound lane of SR 5/US 1 from SW Palm City Road to SE Hudson Court will be closed around-the-clock beginning Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 2 for demolition of the curb and separator, median widening and installation of a new separator.
• One westbound lane of SR 5/US 1 from SW Palm City Road to SE Hudson Court will be closed around-the-clock beginning Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 2 for demolition of the curb and separator, median widening and installation of a new separator. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

4. State Road 9/I-95 Weigh In Motion (WIM) Stations Highway Lighting Improvements Project
Description: This 1-mile (0.5 mile for each WIM station) on SR 9/I-95 from just south of SW Becker Road to just north of SR 706/Indiantown Road in Martin County began August 29, 2022. Project improvements consist of removing the existing highway lighting features and installing new highway lighting, electrical, and other incidental construction.
Cost/Completion: $1,074,789. Completion is expected spring 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• The southbound WIM station located just south of the Becker Road interchange is open.
• The northbound WIM station located just north of Indiantown Road will be closed around-the clock through Tuesday, Dec. 27, for removal of the existing highway lighting features and installation of new highway lighting. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY
(City of Port St. Lucie, Port St. Lucie, White City, City of Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce, Okeechobee, St. Lucie West, Tradition)

5. Kings Highway Widening Project, from South of State Road 70 to North of the I-95 Overpass
Description: Kings Highway / State Road 713 is being widened from south of State Road 70 to north of the I-95 overpass in the City of Ft. Pierce and unincorporated St. Lucie County. The improvements on this 3.417-mile project include: reconstructing the existing two-lane undivided Kings Highway with a newly constructed four‐lane divided roadway, relocating Canal No. 40 and Canal No. 32E to accommodate widening to the west, realigning Kings Highway at the intersection with Okeechobee Road which will improve the existing connection with the Turnpike, replacing existing culverts/swales and installing a closed drainage system and retention ponds, installing a new highway lighting system, and upgrading signalization with vehicle detection devices and ITS cameras.
Cost/Completion: $45.2 million. Completion is expected in winter 2022.
Traffic Impact:
• The speed limit on Kings Highway from south of Okeechobee Road / State Road 70 to north of the I-95 overpass has been temporarily reduced from 50 MPH to 40 MPH. This speed limit reduction will be in place through the end of the project.
• One lane in either direction of Kings Highway may be intermittently closed Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through fall 2022 for roadway work. Two-way traffic will be maintained by a flag crew. During this time, intermittent side street closures may occur, maintaining two-way traffic at all times.
• Southbound and northbound Kings Highway at the Orange Avenue intersection is reduced to one lane in each direction through summer 2022, temporarily removing the designated turning lanes, to facilitate roadway reconstruction.
• Eastbound Orange Avenue just west of Kings Highway is reduced to one through lane through summer 2022 to facilitate roadway reconstruction.
• Northbound and southbound traffic on Kings Highway from just north of Crossroads Parkway to south of Orange Avenue is shifted to the east on the newly constructed road to facilitate reconstruction of Kings Highway.
• Traffic on Kings Highway between the State Road 70/Okeechobee Road intersection and Pruitt Research Center Road was shifted to the newly constructed southbound lanes, to allow for widening operations and new northbound lane construction through summer 2022. One lane of traffic will remain open in each direction, separated by double yellow lines (no passing zone).
• Northbound and southbound traffic on Kings Highway between north of Picos Road and Orange Avenue was shifted to the new northbound pavement, to allow for widening operations and southbound lane construction through fall 2022. One lane of traffic will be open in each direction separated by double yellow lines (no passing zone).
• Northbound and southbound traffic on Kings Highway just south of Orange Avenue was shifted to the new southbound pavement until Access Road, where northbound traffic will shift back onto the existing northbound pavement to allow for widening operations and lane construction through fall 2022. One lane of traffic will remain open in each direction, separated by double yellow lines (no passing zone.
• One lane in either direction of Kings Highway from Okeechobee Road to north of the I-95 bridge will be closed intermittently Monday, Sept. 12 through Thursday, Sept. 15 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for roadway work. Traffic will be maintained by a flag crew.
• One lane in either direction of Kings Highway from Okeechobee Road to north of the I-95 bridge will be closed Sunday, Sept. 11 through Thursday, Sept. 15 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for maintenance of traffic control work.
• One lane in either direction of Orange Avenue from just west of Kings Highway to just east of Kings Highway will be closed Sunday, Sept. 11 through Thursday, Sept. 15 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for drainage work. Traffic will be maintained by a flag crew.
• Advanced Notice: Kings Highway between Pruitt Research Road and Crossroads Parkway, will be closed around-the-clock on the following dates and times for drainage installation across the roadway:
o Friday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 26 at 6 a.m.
o Friday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. through Monday, Oct. 3 at 6 a.m.
o Oct. 7-10 and Oct. 14-17 will be used as contingency nights as needed.
o Detour routes will be marked along Graham Road, Jenkins Road, Okeechobee Road, and Crossroads Parkway. Please see flyer attached. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

6. SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard Widening Project, from South of SW Alcantarra Boulevard to South of SW Darwin Boulevard
Description: Construction on this 0.713-mile widening project began on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in the City of Port St. Lucie. The City of Port St. Lucie, as Project Sponsor, requested the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Four design and construct this project through application to the St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization and City of Port St. Lucie Resolution 18-R42. Project improvements include widening SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard from a two-lane undivided roadway to a four-lane divided roadway, installing three new signalized intersections with mast arms at SW Alcantarra Boulevard, SW Tulip Boulevard, and SW Tunis Boulevard, adding a right turn lane on SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard’s north approach to SW Alcantarra Boulevard, constructing an 18’ wide raised median with curb and gutter, upgrading crosswalks and curb ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, constructing 8’-10’ wide sidewalks on both sides of SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard for pedestrian and bicycle use, and 6’ wide sidewalks on side streets, installing a new closed drainage system, signing, pavement markings, signalization, and lighting upgrades, and landscaping for the median including trees, irrigation and stamped concrete.
Cost/Completion: $11,570,179. Completion is expected summer 2024.
Traffic Impact:
• One lane in each direction of SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard between SW Squirrel Avenue and SW Darwin Boulevard will be closed Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to install line stops and final connections, and for chlorination and pressure testing. Flagging operations will be in place to direct traffic. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.
City of Port St. Lucie project/adjacent to project corridor:
The Port St. Lucie Boulevard South Project Segment 3, managed by the City of Port St. Lucie, is reconstructing approximately 0.7 miles of the existing four-lane roadway from SW Gatlin Boulevard to SW Darwin Boulevard and a portion of SW Darwin Boulevard through Winter 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• Speed limit lowered to 30 mph for the duration of the construction project.
• Closure of existing median openings at both SW Yale Street and SW Cairo Avenue.
• One northbound through lane will be eliminated on SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard north of SW Aurelia Avenue to Gatlin Boulevard, leaving one through lane and one dedicated left turn lane onto westbound Gatlin Boulevard. For more information about the City of Port St. Lucie’s Segment 3 Project, please contact Beth Zsoka, Project Public Information Specialist at 772-871-5176.

7. St. Lucie West Boulevard Widening Project, from Commerce Center Drive to Peacock Boulevard
Description: This 1.814-mile widening project began on Monday, January 24, 2022, in the City of Port St. Lucie. The City of Port St. Lucie, as Project Sponsor, requested the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Four design and construct this project through application to the St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization and City of Port St. Lucie Resolution 20-R75. Project improvements include constructing a new 3-lane eastbound bridge over I-95, separated 10-feet from the existing bridge; widening St. Lucie West Boulevard to accommodate two (2) eastbound and westbound travel lanes, with a third eastbound lane between the I-95 southbound and northbound ramps, two (2) eastbound left turn lanes at the I-95 northbound on ramp, two (2) westbound right turn lanes at the I-95 northbound on ramp; reconstructing/widening the I-95 ramps; connecting the existing St. Lucie West Boulevard roadway to the new eastbound bridge from the east and west directions; constructing 7-foot buffered bike lanes/paved shoulder and 5-foot to 6-foot wide sidewalks on both sides of the roadway; constructing a 22-foot to 40-foot lane-line to lane-line curbed median with curb and gutter; installing fencing retrofits on the north side of the existing bridge, and new railing on the eastbound bridge; and, installing new traffic signals with enhanced synchronization and timing at I-95 ramps.
Cost/Completion: $15,518,729. Completion is expected fall 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• Eastbound St. Lucie West Boulevard to southbound I-95 traffic is shifted to the newly paved temporary on-ramp through Nov. 2022 to facilitate roadway construction.
• Eastbound and westbound traffic on St. Lucie West Boulevard just west of I-95 near the southbound on and off-ramps is shifted to the north through Sept. 2022.
• The eastbound lane of St. Lucie West Boulevard just west of the I-95 northbound on and off-ramps will be shifted to the south through Sept. 2022.
• The bike lane and shoulder along eastbound St. Lucie West Boulevard are closed through Sept. 2022. The asphalt pathway along westbound St. Lucie West Boulevard will be open and can be used by bicycles.
• Traffic on the northbound I-95 on-ramp is shifted to the outside (right) lane through February 2023 to facilitate roadway construction operations.
• Traffic on the northbound I-95 off-ramp is shifted to the inside (left) lane to facilitate roadway construction operations through Nov.2022. The dedicated right turn lane is still in place and operational.
• Traffic on the southbound I-95 off-ramp is shifted to the inside (left) lane eliminating the dedicated right turn lane onto westbound St. Lucie West Boulevard to facilitate roadway construction operations through Nov. 2022.
• Intermittent shoulder closures may occur Monday through Friday, through Friday, Sept. 30, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for road work at the following locations:
o Northbound and southbound I-95 mainline from just north and south of the St. Lucie West Boulevard overpass
o All I-95 on and off-ramps at St. Lucie West Boulevard
o Eastbound and westbound St. Lucie West Boulevard from Champions Way to SW Peacock Boulevard
• One lane in either direction of St. Lucie West Boulevard between Champions Way and SW Peacock Boulevard may be intermittently closed Monday through Friday through Friday, Sept. 30, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for roadway work. A flagging operation will be in place to help direct traffic.
• One northbound and southbound lane of I-95 may be intermittently closed from just north and south of the St. Lucie West Boulevard overpass Monday through Friday through Friday, Sept. 30, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for bridge work.
• One northbound and southbound lane of I-95 may be intermittently closed from just north and south of the St. Lucie West Boulevard overpass Monday through Friday, through Friday, Sept. 30, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for bridge work and material deliveries. No more than one lane will be closed at a time in either direction of I-95.
• Two southbound and northbound lanes of I-95 from one mile south to one mile north of the St. Lucie West Boulevard overpass may be intermittently closed Monday through Friday, through Friday, Sept. 30, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for bridge work. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

8. State Road 716/Port St. Lucie Boulevard Over Long Creek & N. Fork of the St. Lucie River Bridge Rehabilitation Project
Description: This 0.3-mile bridge rehabilitation project began on Saturday, March 19, 2022, in the City of Port St. Lucie. Project improvements include removing the existing deteriorated east and west seawalls (concrete caps and steel sheet piles) and replacing with rubble riprap slope protection, and repairing the existing spalls in the concrete piles and concrete beams at various locations.
Cost/Completion: $1,436,682. Completion is expected fall 2022.
Traffic Impact:
• One westbound lane on SR 716/Port St. Lucie Boulevard from SE Veterans Memorial Parkway to SE Floresta Drive may be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16, for material removal.
• Two westbound lanes on SR 716/Port St. Lucie Boulevard from Shelter Drive to SE Floresta Drive may be closed nightly from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16, for material removal and rock placement. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

9. State Road A1A North Causeway Over the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) Bridge Replacement Project
Description: This bridge replacement project is anticipated to begin in fall 2022, in the City of Fort Pierce. Project improvements include constructing a new high-level fixed bridge connected directly to U.S. 1 over the FEC Railroad, Old Dixie Highway, and the ICWW featuring: one (1) 12-foot travel lane in each direction and navigational clearances of 85-feet vertical and 125-feet horizontal at the waterway channel; installing a barrier protected sidewalk on the south side of the bridge and a barrier protected, buffered shared-use path on the north side of the bridge; building an Observation Deck beneath the west side of the new bridge structure; installing 7-foot buffered bicycle lanes within shoulders on either side of SR A1A; constructing a shared-use path along Old Dixie Highway to provide connectivity to the East Coast Greenway; constructing a new access road under the bridge to businesses east of the FEC Railroad; extending Juanita Avenue from U.S. 1 to Old Dixie Highway; and, connecting U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway along Sunny Lane.
Cost/Completion: $111,595,617. Completion is expected summer 2026.
Traffic Impact:
• All lanes are open. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

10. State Road 9/I-95 Northbound and Southbound Off-Ramps at Gatlin Boulevard Roadway Improvements Project
Description: This 1.4-mile roadway improvements project began on Friday, June 10, 2022. Project improvements include widening southbound I-95 to provide a 12-foot auxiliary lane and a 12-foot shoulder (10-feet paved); widening I-95 southbound Gatlin Boulevard off-ramp for the addition of a right-turn lane and a left-turn lane; widening the inside of the I-95 northbound Gatlin Boulevard off-ramp to provide three (3) left-turn lanes; widening eastbound and westbound Gatlin Boulevard to provide three 15-foot left-turn lanes; modifying drainage to an open system with dry ponds; installing one cantilever sign structure at the southbound I-95 off-ramp; and adding new signing and pavement markings.
Cost/Completion: $4,627,785.77. Completion is anticipated fall 2023.
Traffic Impact:
• The outside or inside ramp lane of the northbound I-95 to eastbound and westbound Gatlin Boulevard exit ramp may be closed Monday through Friday, through Friday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for roadway work.
• One lane in each direction of Gatlin Boulevard from just east and west of the northbound and southbound I-95 off-ramps at Gatlin Boulevard may be closed Monday through Friday, through Friday Sept. 30, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for drilled shaft work. During this time, sections of the sidewalks will be closed, and pedestrian detours will be in place. For more information, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Samantha Kayser at 772-579-5479.

Why You Should Rent a Car for Vacation

22 Feb Car AAA

Put those miles on a rental instead of your car. Bracing yourself for miles of wear and tear on the family car while on vacation this summer? Maybe it’s time to switch things up. Here are five reasons to leave your wheels at home and rent a car for vacation this year:

Your car may deserve a little vacation, too. Prolonged driving takes a toll on our favorite mode of transportation, and maintaining a car is expensive: According to the 2021 AAA “Your Driving Costs” study, the average annual cost of owning and operating a new vehicle is $9,666, or $805.50 per month. When you rent a car for vacation, you log those hefty vacation miles on the rental, rather than your own car. One benefit: Perhaps you can put off trading in your car for another year or two.

If weaving through big-city streets is part of your epic summer adventure, the family minivan—while perfect for trips to soccer practice, school and work—might not be ideal. When you rent a car for vacation, you can get a smaller vehicle that’s still big enough for the family and luggage, yet gives you more maneuverability and better gas mileage.

If you’re taking a long sightseeing vacation, you may want more legroom or even a few extra seats so the kids can spread out. A larger rental provides the space that your vehicle doesn’t. Legroom is one of the most complicated measurements that goes into designing a vehicle, so make sure you do a “test sit” before deciding.

If you’re in the market for a car or truck, renting a vacation car can be the perfect way for the family to test a new ride. You can get input from your crew and give the vehicle a much more thorough test drive than you’d get at a car dealership. Maybe you’re considering an electric vehicle (EV) for your next purchase. Hertz has, what might be, the largest EV rental fleet in North America and can put you behind the wheel of the Tesla Model 3, a four-door sedan with a 260-mile driving range (the long-range offering of the car can go roughly 100 miles further). Ultimately, you’ll be able to see how the car fits your needs before going all-in with a purchase.

If your vacation destination is far away, you may want to save time by flying—and rent a car when you arrive. Given the true cost of driving your car long distances, this option may be more affordable than you think.

Keeping Your Rental Options Open

New cars use microchips to operate features like driver-assistance controls, window motors, navigation systems and more. Unfortunately, as you may have heard, there’s currently a global chip shortage that has disrupted auto production. Fewer cars produced means more competition for what’s available—and more chances for unwelcome surprises—even when you’re only looking for a rental. Here are tips for getting the right rental car when you need it.

Make advance arrangements. Waiting until the last minute to rent is never a good idea. Avoid frustration by securing your rental car when you plan or book your trip.

Expand your search. Don’t limit yourself to high-demand rental locations. Off-airport locations, for example, will often have better selections, and you may even be able to avoid long lines.

Know what you want. If you need a vehicle that seats five adults, an economy or compact car won’t do. And remember to account for other friends or family members who may need to ride with you once you’re at your destination.

Be flexible. High demand will probably mean higher prices than you’re used to seeing, so make sure you take advantage of any available rental discounts.

How To Handle The Other Persons Insurance Company After a Car Accident

Retirement Travelers North Dakota Travel Guide

Cascading waterfalls, roaming wildlife and a view that stretches out over 500,000 acres – this is the country’s most-visited national park. Vacationers often start in Gatlinburg and make their way to one of the park’s famous paths where they can find everything they’ve been looking for. A hike through the Great Smoky Mountains – whether it be on the Appalachian Trail itself, a wildflower walk, or a trip to one of the many waterfalls – will leave you with a smile and a lasting impression. Because the experience changes season to season, there’s always a new scene to come explore.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American national park in the southeastern United States, with parts in Tennessee and North Carolina. The park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The park contains some of the highest mountains in eastern North America, including Clingmans Dome, Mount Guyot, and Mount Le Conte. The border between the two states runs northeast to southwest through the center of the park. The Appalachian Trail passes through the center of the park on its route from Georgia to Maine. With 12.5 million visitors in 2019, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States.

As the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park anchors a large tourism industry based in Sevier County, Tennessee adjacent to the park. Major attractions include Dollywood, the second-most visited tourist attraction in Tennessee, Ober Gatlinburg, and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Tourism to the park contributes an estimated $2.5 billion annually into the local economy. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a major tourist attraction in the region. It was the most visited national park in 2019, with over 12.5 million recreational visitors (tourists). The recreational figure represents nearly twice as many tourists as the Grand Canyon, which received nearly 6 million visitors the same year. Surrounding towns, notably Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend, Tennessee, and Cherokee, Sylva, Maggie Valley, and Bryson City, North Carolina, receive a significant portion of their income from tourism associated with the park.

The two main visitor centers inside the park are Sugarlands Visitors' Center near the Gatlinburg entrance to the park and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, North Carolina, at the eastern entrance to the park. These ranger stations provide exhibits on wildlife, geology, and the history of the park. They also sell books, maps, and souvenirs.

There are 850 miles (1,370 km) of trails and unpaved roads in the park for hiking, including 70 miles (110 km) of the Appalachian Trail. Mount Le Conte is one of the most frequented destinations in the park. Its elevation is 6,593 feet (2,010 m), the third highest summit in the park and, measured from its base to its highest peak, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Alum Cave Trail is the most heavily used of the five paths en route to the summit. It provides many scenic overlooks and unique natural attractions such as Alum Cave Bluffs and Arch Rock. Hikers may spend a night at the LeConte Lodge, located near the summit, which provides cabins and rooms for rent (except during the winter season). Accessible solely by trail, it is the only private lodging available inside the park.

The park's waters have long had a reputation for healthy trout activity as well as challenging fishing terrain. Brook trout are native to the waters, while both brown and rainbow were introduced to the area. Partially due to the fact of recent droughts killing off the native fish, there are strict regulations regarding how fishing may be conducted. Horseback riding (offered by the national park and on limited trails), bicycling (available for rent in Cades Cove) and water tubing are all also practiced within the park.

From late May to early June, the Elkmont area of the park hosts the peak display period for synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus), one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns.

Out2News Destination of the Month Colorado Springs

22 July Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a home rule municipality in, and the county seat of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. It is the largest city in El Paso County, with a population of 478,961 at the 2020 United States Census, a 15.02% increase since 2010. Colorado Springs is the second-most populous city and the most extensive city in the state of Colorado, and the 40th-most populous city in the United States. It is the principal city of the Colorado Springs, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and the second-most prominent city of the Front Range Urban Corridor. It is located in east-central Colorado, on Fountain Creek, 70 miles (113 km) south of Denver.

At 6,035 feet (1,839 m) the city stands over 1 mile (1.6 km) above sea level, though some areas are significantly higher and lower. Colorado Springs is near the base of Pikes Peak, which rises 14,115 feet (4,302.31 m) above sea level on the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains.

The city lies in a semi-arid Steppe climate region with the Southern Rocky Mountains to the west, the Palmer Divide to the north, high plains further east, and high desert lands to the south when leaving Fountain and approaching Pueblo. Colorado Springs is 69 miles (111 km) or one hour and five minutes south of Denver by car using I-25.

Colorado Springs has the greatest total area of any municipality in Colorado. At the 2020 United States Census, the city had a total area of 125,287 acres (507.019 km2) including 232 acres (0.937 km2) of water.

Winters range from mild to moderately cold, with December, the coldest month, averaging 30.8 °F (−0.7 °C); historically January has been the coldest month, but, in recent years, December has had both lower daily maxima and minima. Typically, there are 5.2 nights with sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows and 23.6 days where the high does not rise above freezing.

A large percentage of Colorado Springs's economy is still based on manufacturing high-tech and complex electronic equipment. The high-tech sector in the Colorado Springs area has decreased its overall presence from 2000 to 2006 (from around 21,000 to around 8,000), with notable reductions in information technology and complex electronic equipment. Current trends project the high-tech employment ratio will continue to decrease.

Although Colorado voters approved Colorado Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing retail sales of marijuana for recreational purposes, the Colorado Springs city council voted not to permit retail shops in the city, as was allowed in the amendment. Medical marijuana outlets continue to operate in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs, dubbed Olympic City USA, is home to the United States Olympic Training Center and the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Further, over 50 national sports organizations (non-Olympic) headquarter in Colorado Springs. These include the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Sports Incubator, a various non-Olympic Sports (such as USA Ultimate), and more.

Garden of the Gods is on Colorado Springs's western edge. It is a National Natural Landmark, with 300 foot (91 m) red/orange sandstone rock formations often viewed against a backdrop of the snow-capped Pikes Peak. This park is free to the public and offers many recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rock climbing, cycling, horseback riding and tours. It offers a variety of annual events, one of the most popular of which is the Starlight Spectacular, a recreational bike ride held every summer to benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition of Colorado Springs.

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Pet Travel Tips

Article & Photo by: Tawnya Sessions

Traveling and vacations are fun for the whole family, even your pets.

Pet Friendly Hotels
Before you book your vacation, make sure your preferred hotel allows pets. Most pet friendly hotels state that they allow pets on their websites. If you are not sure, call the hotel before reserving your room to make sure they allow dogs and cats.

Feed Your Pet at Least Two Hours Before Traveling
Whether you are traveling by car, plane or train, lessen the likelihood of motion sickness by feeding your pet at least two hours before you plan to leave for your trip. You should also make sure your pet uses the bathroom before traveling to prevent accidents.

Use Approved Pet Carriers
If you are driving to your destination, make sure your pet is secured in a standard, hard-sided pet carrier and that the pet carrier is secured by a seat belt. If you are flying or traveling by train, purchase a pet carrier that is USDA approved.

Schedule a Wellness Examination with our Veterinarian
If you are uncertain as to whether your pet is healthy enough to fly, go ahead and schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. At the time of your examination, they can administer any extra vaccinations, like kennel cough and Lyme disease, and they can microchip your pet.

Consider Pet Boarding
Sometimes, you are not able to travel with your pet. In these instances, the safest thing you can do is to schedule pet boarding. You can bring your pet's favorite food, toys and bedding to make your pet feel more comfortable.

How to Stay Comfortable on Long Drives

20 July Travel

Article by: Consumer Reports

Long car trips can literally be a pain. But you can remain physically comfortable on long drives with these tips.

Stay alert. Drowsy driving can be fatal. Don’t push yourself to drive late into the night, when you are usually asleep. Switch drivers if you start to fade. If you’re the only driver, get a hotel room.

Pull over every 2 to 3 hours. “Sitting too long is hard on the lower back due to that constant flexed position,” says Lynn Millar, Ph.D., chair of the department of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. It may compress the discs between your vertebrae, potentially leading to pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs. Your neck and hips could get tight, too. Getting out of the car and walking around a bit can help keep you comfortable on long drives.

Stretch your back. On your driving breaks, stand tall and circle your shoulders back five times. Then reach arms overhead and arch back slightly. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower arms and repeat once or twice.

Uncramp your legs. Try this calf and hip-flexor stretch: Stand with feet staggered in a lunge, left knee bent in front and right leg straight behind so that your heel touches the ground. With hands on hips (or holding on to something for balance), clench the right side of your gluteal muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

Relax your shoulders. Keeping your chin parallel to the ground, slowly draw your head back as far as you can. You might feel a stretch along your upper spine and shoulders. Repeat six times.

Flex your feet. Trips longer than 4 hours increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, a clot that forms, usually in the lower leg or thigh, says Mary Cushman, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Stopping to walk around helps. Passengers in the car should do ankle rolls and alternate flexing and pointing their feet one at a time every half hour or so.

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Driving Tips to Help You Increase Gas Mileage

20 June Driving Tips 1

Article Courtesy of AAA

Your car isn’t the only factor that directly impacts how much gasoline you use (and pay for) each year—it’s also how you drive.

Fuel is the second biggest cost of owning a car, according to AAA research. But there are ways to use less. Simply driving sensibly—avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, for example—can save you up to 40 percent on gas in stop-and-go traffic, according to fueleconomy.gov.

Here are driving tips to help you increase gas mileage—which, in return, will save you money at the pump:

Accelerate gradually
Avoid “jackrabbit” starts, but don’t accelerate too slowly.

20 June Driving Tips 2

Pro tip: Drive like there’s an egg on the gas pedal—press evenly and gently on the accelerator to avoid breaking the egg.
Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by 7 to 14 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.

Be consistent
Tests have shown that using cruise control when driving on level highway roads can save gas. That’s because maintaining a constant speed requires less accelerating and braking. Just remember to avoid using cruise control on wet or slippery roads.
Estimate how much gas your vehicle will use on a road trip with the AAA Gas Cost Calculator.

Lose unnecessary vehicle weight
Every pound of unnecessary stuff in your car reduces fuel economy, and rooftop carriers multiply the effect with additional wind resistance. If you’re not using that bike rack and don’t need that box of old books, leave them at home to increase gas mileage.

Anticipate stops
Stay aware of traffic ahead of you; when you anticipate you’ll need to stop, let your foot off the gas as early as possible (using brakes as necessary to let other motorists know your intentions). Time stoplights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stop and go.

20 June Driving Tips 3

Pro-tip: Using a prepaid pass on toll roads can help avoid stops and increase gas mileage, too.

Avoid excessive idling
Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and whether you’re using the air conditioner, according to fueleconomy.gov. Avoid long warm-ups in the morning, and when safe to do so, shut off your engine if you’ll be stopped for more than a minute.

Combine errands into one trip
Getting more things done in one outing can help increase gas mileage. Also consider what time you’re heading out—avoiding stop-and-go rush hour traffic can save you time and money.

Bonus tip: Give your car some TLC

These don’t involve driving, but good habits in maintaining your car can help increase gas mileage. Reduce fuel economy by maintaining recommended tire pressure, keeping the air filter clean and replacing exhaust oxygen sensors before they fail.