Lower gas prices expected to spur Memorial Day travel

May. 22, 2013 @ 06:09 PM

More North Carolina drivers are expected to hit the road with the kick-off of the summer travel season this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Carolinas.

The not-for-profit automobile-association affiliate said in a news release on Wednesday that an estimated 897,300 people are expected to drive this weekend, a total that’s up 1.5 percent compared with the prior year.

The number of people expected to fly is expected to be down about 5 percent to 59,900. Other travel is expected to remain flat at 60,000.

“Lower gas prices and a slowly improving economy means more people will travel this holiday weekend to spend time with family and friends,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, in the release.

The average price of regular, unleaded fuel in North Carolina on Wednesday was down 37 cents to about $3.43 from a peak Feb. 22. The average price was also down 12 cents per gallon from what it was on the date last year.

The most congested travel times are expected to be Friday afternoon and evening, with traffic increasing earlier in the day than usual, as well as Monday evening.

Most construction projects along interstates and state roads will be suspended from 4 p.m. Friday to  9 a.m. Tuesday.

For more information on construction delays, go to the N.C. Department of Transportation website at www.ncdot.org.

The five-day Memorial Day holiday travel period is between Thursday and Monday. Survey data is taken from AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, AAA/HIS Global Insight holiday travel forecast and AAA Carolinas data.