Labor Day Holiday Travel Expected to Be Up
The end of summer is luring more vacation travelers than the beginning of the summer season.
Despite an increase in gasoline prices since Memorial Day, continued economic turbulence and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, 1,017,000 North Carolinians are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home this Labor Day holiday, an increase of 12.5 percent.
"That is 113,000 more than Memorial Day," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "It means people really want to get away for the last holiday of the summer, despite the fact that most schools are already in session."
Travel experts from Boone in the mountains to Wilmington on the coast believe Labor Day will see an influx of tourists greater than Memorial Day.
Gas prices across the state are up about 14 cents a gallon more than Memorial Day (May 25) to $2.51 a gallon.
The most expensive gasoline currently is in Durham at $2.57 a gallon and the least expensive is in Wilmington at $2.45 for a gallon of self-serve, unleaded gasoline.
The most popular destinations for motorists, who represent 86 percent of those traveling, are: Myrtle Beach, Washington, D.C., Asheville, Charleston and Atlanta, according to AAA Vacations, which tracks hotel bookings and TripTik routings.
Economic conditions still affect North Carolina, which has an unemployment rate of 11 percent, compared to the national rate of 9.7 percent.
"There exists a current pent-up desire to travel that is manifesting itself this weekend," said Parsons. "It helps that hotels, airlines and entertainment venues are offering discounts, some specific to this weekend, some ongoing."
Traffic enforcement will be heavy along the South Atlantic region with stepped up highway patrols and checkpoints along the borders of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. Last year, four people died in traffic crashes in North Carolina over the Labor Day holiday.
Air travel will drop significantly for this short holiday weekend from 60,000 passengers over Memorial Day to 39,000 this weekend, representing only 4 percent of those traveling.
Most construction projects along interstates, N.C. and U.S. routes, will be suspended beginning at 4 p.m., today (Friday) until 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. There are four exceptions.
n I-85 in Vance County between mile markers 206 and 214. The interstate is reduced to one lane in each direction and traffic has been shifted to the northbound lanes so that crews can reconstruct the southbound lanes as part of a pavement rehabilitation project.
n Exits 25 and 33 over I-95 in Robeson County are closed to traffic crossing over the interstate as a part of the bridge raising and rehabilitation project.
n One of three lanes will be closed on I-85 North and I-85 South at the interchange with N.C. 62 at Exit 113 near High Point due to construction of the U.S. 311 bypass. No work will occur during the holiday; however, the right lane in each direction will remain closed.
n One lane of U.S. 220 South at the Randolph/Montgomery county line will be closed due to the construction of rest areas. No work will occur during the holiday; however, the right lane in each direction will remain closed.
North Carolina does not require its construction projects to keep all travel lanes open during heavily traveled holiday weekends.
Motorists seeking the cheapest local gas prices can go to www.aaa.com/fuelfinder. Prices are listed for a three-, five- or 10-mile radius of the zip code entered.
More like this story