They're off.

Thousands of motorists are hitting the highways for the long Thanksgiving weekend around the country and in Mobile.

For some people, the holiday began early for many people who started their trips Wednesday morning.

One man filling up his gas tank in Loxley said, "We got up and left really early, so there hasn't been a whole lot of traffic yet, but I'm sure we'll run into it shortly."

Alabama Department of Transportation, or ALDOT, officials say they'll be keeping an eye on roads to help drivers who need it.

They also want you to know about the services provided by ALDOT's Alabama Service and Assistance Patrol, or "ASAP."

Katelyn Turner with ALDOT said, "Normally, it's Wednesday and Friday that see the most traffic on the interstate, so we're going to have, the entire time, our ASAP drivers driving those routes looking for anyone who might be broken down on the side of the road or run out of gas."

Turner also said, "Our traffic management center is going to stay open as it always does 24/7 to monitor those roadways and looking for anyone who might be out there stranded or have any sort of traffic incident."

At the welcome center in Mississippi near the Alabama state line, you could find license plates from many different states and hear plenty of stories from people preparing to make memories.

Keith Bell from Mobile said he and family members were going to Houston, Texas.

Pinkie Robinson is from Columbus, Georgia, and was heading to Biloxi.

She said she was going to celebrate "Thanksgiving with the family, husband's family."

Grace Aucoin who lives in Panama City Beach said, "We decided to do like our little family vacation and do New Orleans because we haven't been in a while."

When asked what she was going to see in New Orleans, Aucoin said, "Everything. I'm going to mostly eat."

Here is more information on the Alabama Service Incident Patrol, or ASAP, from the Alabama Traffic Incident Management website.  

Currently the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) operates two Traffic Management Centers (TMC) and Alabama Service and Assistance Patrol (ASAP) programs, one in the Birmingham Urbanized Area and one in the Mobile Urbanized Area. ALDOT strives to reduce traffic delays and congestion on the Interstate and state highway systems around metropolitan area utilizing the TMC and ASAP programs to respond to a variety of incidents ranging from removing debris in the roadway, providing assistance to disabled vehicles, and coordinating incident response with First Responders.

The use of a TMC and ASAP are two aspects of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) utilized by ALDOT for congestion management in the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area. Although these two programs have always worked in conjunction with each other it was not until mid-2013 that they were brought together under the same immediate supervision. As ALDOT strives to reduce congestion on the Interstate system around Birmingham, the TMC uses various types of surveillance equipment to detect incidents and notify ASAP and other first responders. ASAP and others respond to these incidents and works to clear the roadways so that normal traffic flow may be resumed. By quickly reestablishing normal traffic flow, harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) produced by idling vehicles, onlooker delays and chances of secondary incidents are all reduced. The program in Birmingham provides a wide range of services to motorists traveling I-20, I-59, I-65 and I-459 in Jefferson and Shelby counties.

The Mobile ASAP program currently patrols I-10, I-65, I-165, US 90, and US 98 in the Mobile Metro area and the Eastern Shore of Baldwin County 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year. This includes the critical areas around the Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels and along the I-10 Bayway (along with Wallace Tunnel, this area is listed as the most congested section of I-10 from the Atlantic to the Pacific) and US 90/98 Causeway. This is done by utilizing the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices located at the state of the art Mobile Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC). The program was initiated as a part of the overall Intelligent Transportation System program of ALDOT. ASAP provides a free service to the traveling public and has become an integral and extremely successful part of the Alabama Department of Transportation's freeway incident management effort.

Traffic Incident Management System

Together Alabama’s responder community can shape the next generation of Traffic Incident Management, improve the on-scene safety of our first responders and increase the “livability” of our communities. Encourage your agency and community members to learn about Alabama’s TIM program, and promote safe, quick clearance of roadway incidents.

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

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