Memorial Day weekend expected to be among busiest ever

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the second-most traveled since 2000, according to AAA.

The association said, beginning Thursday, 43 million people will be traveling. In West Virginia and surrounding states, around 8.1 million people will be flying, driving or riding to another place.

“This is great news for us to see,” said Jim Garrity, spokesman for AAA’s East Central region. “A lot of people have the confidence they need to take a trip with the strong economy, and they have a couple of extra dollars with that strong economy as well to say let’s go see family, let’s go see friends or let’s go on a nice vacation.”

The worst time to be on the road includes late afternoon Friday; 37.6 million people will be going to their holiday destination by car.

In anticipation of increased travel, the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced most interstate road work will be suspended until Tuesday.

One exception is work on the Westmoreland interchange in Charleston, in which crews are replacing bridge decks where Interstates 64, 77 and 79 split. Crews in that area will work through Saturday before resuming the project on Tuesday.

“Where possible, we’re going to remove the barrels and open the lanes up for travel,” state Division of Highways spokesman Brent Walker said.

Walker added travelers will notice narrow lanes if driving on the West Virginia Turnpike between Bluefield and Princeton.

“We’ve got concrete barriers to work through, and we just can’t remove those,” he said.

According to AAA, the current average price for regular gas in West Virginia is $2.75 a gallon; the national average is $2.845.

“Gasoline prices, at this point, haven’t been a deterrent for people taking a trip, which is great news to see,” Garrity said.

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