Warm weather and cheap gas: Anticipate traffic on Memorial Day weekend

Marylanders taking advantage of warm weather this Memorial Day weekend should expect heavy traffic.

"The traffic patterns have been increasing from last year and the gas prices are below where they were," said Tamory Winfield, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority. "We expect a lot people to be hitting the road instead of other types of transportation."


An estimated 814,300 state residents will travel over the long weekend, a slight increase from last year and the most since 2005, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Ninety percent of those travelers, or 733,100, are expected to drive to their destinations, the auto club said. It is a choice partly fueled by the average gas price of $2.26 per gallon for regular unleaded, which, while higher than in the past few months, is 41 cents lower than last Memorial Day.


The MDTA is anticipating more than 377,000 motorists on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge between Friday and Monday, Winfield said.

"If you can travel off peak hours or avoid the weekend grind, we recommend that," he said.

Winfield suggests crossing the bridge before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, or before 7 a.m. or after 5 p.m. on Saturday.

This weekend is expected to be mostly sunny, clear and warm, which is expected to draw people to the water and the beach.

"Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us," Winfield said.

Ocean City expects 250,000 to 300,000 people to pack its beaches, boardwalk and restaurants this weekend, spokeswoman Jessica Waters told The Baltimore Sun.

More than 58,000 Marylanders are expected to travel by air over the weekend, a 7 percent increase, which AAA attributed to a 26 percent drop in average airfare since last year for the top domestic flights. About 2.6 million people are expected to fly nationwide over the weekend, a 1.6 percent increase.

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport will be buzzing, said spokesman Jonathan Dean.


"We expect a busy weekend here," he said. "2015 was a new all-time record for passenger traffic at BWI, and we've seen continued growth in 2016."

Weekend traffic at the airport won't peak until July or August, he said.

The use of other modes of travel, such as trains, buses and cruises, is forecast to drop 5.2 percent for the weekend, AAA said. Spokeswoman Ragina Cooper Averella attributed the decline — the second year in a row such travel fell — to cheap gasoline prices.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.