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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Driving in several of the larger cities around Aviano just got a lot more complicated.

Because of high levels of air pollution, local authorities in Pordenone, Cordenons and Porcia have begun limiting automobile traffic in their cities. The measures were put into effect Friday and will presumably last as long as current conditions persist.

The air base is several miles north of the three cities, but a good chunk of its population lives in the affected areas.

Paolo Tarchi, a longtime member of the 31st Fighter Wing’s public affairs office, said such conditions occur in the area routinely.

High air pressure and a lack of wind allow the particles that make up the pollution to stay in the air. Tarchi said a good rain or strong winds — neither of which are projected on CNN’s five-day weather forecast — would improve the conditions.

The 31st Fighter Wing public affairs office sent out a message to all base personnel Friday afternoon, detailing the situation and providing a map of the affected areas. Much of the information was obtained from reports in the Italian media, according to the public affairs office.

According to fliers posted throughout the cities, traffic will be regulated by license plate numbers. Those with cars that have plates ending in even numbers face no restrictions on even-numbered dates, but can’t drive in the city limits from 9:30 a.m. to noon or 3 to 6 p.m. on odd-numbered dates. The reverse is true for those with plates ending in odd numbers.

Italian license plates begin and end with two-letter combinations, with three numbers in between. It’s the last of those numbers that determines if a plate is even- or odd-numbered.

In addition, all privately owned autos are prohibited from smaller, defined areas in the three cities while the restrictions are in effect, regardless of what the date is. Motorists also can’t drive in the three cities during the same hours on Sundays.

Some commercial vehicles and buses receive exemptions. Drivers who violate the rules are subject to fines starting at 71 euros. The posters, written in Italian, list potential parking spots and bus routes that people can take instead of driving.

Such restrictions are common this time of year in Italy, including many of the larger cities across the north. Those stationed in Vicenza face similar restrictions in downtown areas on an almost annual basis, though there are none currently in effect.

Naples rarely implements such restrictions.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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