High gas prices, record traffic expected for Memorial Day weekend

Written by Candy Woodall,/The York Daily Record | May 24, 2018 11:54 AM
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Photo by AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

(Undated) -- Drivers are paying more for gas than they have in four years, but that's not putting the brakes on Memorial Day travel. 

Gas prices are more than $3 a gallon in York County and expected to climb in the coming days. 

"Gas prices are nearly 60 cents more expensive than last year and will likely jump a few more pennies heading into Memorial Day weekend," said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. 

At an average $2.93 per gallon nationally, gas prices are at their highest level this time of year since Memorial Day weekend in 2014. 

These high prices are hitting at a time when AAA predicts record-high travel. Nearly 42 million people are expected to travel in the U.S., taking vehicles, planes and boats, the travel agency reported. That's the highest number of travelers in more than 12 years.

The vast majority of travelers  - about 37 million - will commute by car. That's about 2 million more than last year. 

And those numbers don't even include people who are traveling less than 50 miles, according to AAA. 

Roads are expected to be most congested on Thursday and Friday, but delays are expected to start Wednesday.

The worst time to travel in the York County region and along the I-83 corridor will be 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, according to INRIX, a transportation data firm.

Commutes could take twice as long at that time on roads that lead from York to beach spots and cities in the mid-Atlantic region.

"Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether - traveling late morning or early afternoon - or plan alternative routes," said Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX. 


Traffic occassionally backs up on Interstate 81 at exit 17 southbound. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

Motorists can save time and money if they fuel up before starting their trips, according to GasBuddy. Prices are expected to climb through the weekend and lines are expected at highway rest stops. 

The cheapest place to get gas in York County as of Wednesday night is Sam's Club in Springettsbury Township, where the price is $2.87 per gallon. 

But GasBuddy isn't expecting as many people at the pump as AAA predicts. Instead, GasBuddy thinks higher gas prices will discourage travel plans and keep people home. 

Some 58 percent of people who responded to GasBuddy's annual summer travel survey said they will take a road trip this summer, a 24 percent decrease from the previous year. 

Memorial Day weekend is technically spring, but many people think of it as the unofficial start to summer.  

If predictions hold true, York County will feel like summer through the holiday weekend. 

Thursday and Friday are expected to be sunny and in the low 80s, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday will be in the high 80s with a chance of thunderstorms. Sunday will be in the low 80s with a chance of thunderstorms. And Monday will be in the high 70s with a chance of thunderstorms. 

"Following what seems like weeks of nearly continuous rainfall, a period of sunshine and rain-free days will grace the northeastern United States," AccuWeather said in a report. 

The sunny days will be a nice change, but AccuWeather noted they may not last long. 

"Thursday's and Friday's weather may be deceptive due to storms to come over the holiday weekend," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said. "The holiday weekend should not be a washout, but the longer you are outside, the better chance it will shower."


This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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