If you're planning to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, you won't be alone.
AAA says 37.2 million Americans will kick-off the unofficial start to summer with a weekend getaway – the highest predicted number of travelers since Memorial Day weekend 2005 – and more than 88 percent of them will be traveling by car, a 5.3 percent increase over last year.
With all the extra people on the road, plus some ongoing construction projects (see more below), your trip Up North may take a little bit longer, especially if you're leaving at peak times.
Travel experts told the International Business Times it may be in drivers' best interest to avoid driving Friday evening and Monday evening, noting people will save hours in travel time by avoiding the rush periods.
Gas is cheaper than last year
There is some good news if you're hitting the road: Drivers will be paying less to fill up their cars this weekend. Although the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is 26 cents more than it was a month ago, it's still about a dollar less than what drivers were paying last Memorial Day weekend, AAA notes.
The national average is $2.72, while Minnesotans are paying about $2.58, AAA's Fuel Gauge report says. Last year, Minnesotans were paying $4.28 a gallon.
Plan ahead for weekend road construction
“We will suspend work on many projects during the holiday weekend,” Sue Mulvihill of MnDOT said in a news release. “However, there are still many work zones around the state where drivers need to plan ahead, pay attention and slow down to make it a safe weekend for everyone.”
There are several ongoing construction projects that could affect travel plans this weekend. Here's a look at some of them:
- Highway 5 bridge, between St. Paul and Fort Snelling, continues to have lane and ramp closures this weekend.
- Highway 10 (Anoka County Road 83) in Ramsey is expected to have congestion-related delays through the fall while Armstrong Boulevard is closed north of the highway.
- Interstate 35E in St. Paul and Little Canada has several ramp and lane closures as MnDOT continues its I-35E Corridor projects. There may also be delays due to work on I-35E in Vadnais Heights and White Bear Lake.
- Highway 51/Snelling Avenue bridge in St. Paul remains closed, and there are other closures in the area.
- Highway 169 in Jordan between Highway 21 and Highway 282 is reduced to a single lane. The speed limit is also reduced to 45 mph.
- Highway 494 in Plymouth may be backed up this weekend due to multiple lane and ramp closures through the area.
Luckily for travelers who plan to take U.S. Highway 10 in St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids – four lanes of the highway, and all ramps except at Benton Drive South, will be open before rush hour Friday and stay open until Tuesday, the state MnDOT says.
The area has been reduced to a single lane in each direction since April 1. Ramp closures are expected to continue after Memorial Day.
MnDOT provides real-time traffic and travel information throughout the state of Minnesota on its website here, or download the smartphone app (but remember not to use it if you're the one behind the wheel). For all current construction projects in the state, click here.
If you're despise traffic as much as most commuters, be sure to avoid these 10 intersections, which Streets.mn calls the busiest intersections in the state.
'Click it or Ticket'
Be sure to buckle up this weekend – the "Click it or Ticket" campaign is underway across the United States, and 300 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are participating.
The campaign, which is part of the state's Towards Zero Death initiative, runs through the end of the month.
Memorial Day is among the most dangerous holidays on Minnesota roads. From 2009 to 2013, the holiday weekend was the deadliest of the holidays with at least 31 deaths and more than 2,060 crashes reported.
Last year, at least five people were killed on Minnesota roads over the holiday weekend.
Preliminary numbers show 154 people have been killed on Minnesota roads so far this year, significantly higher than the 98 fatalities at this time last year.