UPDATE: 37.6 Million Will Hit The Roads For a Memorial Day Vacation

UPDATE: 37.6 Million Will Hit The Roads For a Memorial Day Vacation

Nearly 43 million Americans will start their summers on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. That includes 1.6 million of us from the Chicago area.

If you’re driving out of Kane County, the worst time to leave will be 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, according to a news release from AAA.

This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the bar set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6 percent increase.

Despite a rising national gas price average that is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For these motorists, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”

By The Numbers

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5 percent more than last year.
  • Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8 percent more than last year, second only to 2005.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8 percent to 1.9 million passengers.

Worst Times to Hit The Road

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 24, in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay. Chicago-area folks should expect to spend

“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst, INRIX. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”


Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip
Atlanta Thursday, May 23 4:30 – 6:30 PM 2.2x
Boston Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
Chicago Friday, May 24 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.6x
Detroit Friday, May 24 2:30 – 4:30 PM 1.7x
Houston Sunday, May 26 2:15 – 4:15 PM 1.0x
Los Angeles Friday, May 24 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.0x
New York Thursday, May 23 4:45 – 6:45 PM 2.0x
San Francisco Saturday, May 25 1:00 – 3:00 PM 1.6x
Seattle Monday, May 27 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.0x
Washington, D.C. Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
Source: INRIX

Higher Gas Prices

Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.86 on May 14, 2019), which is relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.87 on May 14, 2018).

MapQuest gas prices in Kane County as of May 23, 2019.

However, 88 percent of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

“When gas prices are expensive, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano. “But, overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, they aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips.”

SOURCE: AAA news release

Construction Suspended, Lanes Reopening Where Possible For Memorial Day Travel

The Illinois Department of Transportation will be reopening lanes where possible for the Memorial Day weekend to minimize travel disruption.

Non-emergency roadwork will be suspended from 3 p.m. Friday, May 24, to 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 27.

The following lane closures will remain in place during the holiday weekend. Work zone speed limits will remain in effect where posted. Please buckle up, slow down, put your phone down and drive sober.

District 1

City of Chicago

  • Monroe Street between Halsted Street and Des Plaines Avenue; closed.
  • Van Buren Street between Halsted Street and Des Plaines Avenue; closed.
  • Right shoulder of the outbound Kennedy Expressway from Illinois 43 (Harlem Avenue) to Interstate 190; closed.
  • Bryn Mawr Avenue from Illinois 43 (Harlem Avenue) to Oriole Avenue; lane reductions continue.
  • he folllowing ramps in the Jane Byrne Interchange work zone will remain closed:
    • Inbound Kennedy Expressway from Madison Street
    • Inbound Kennedy to Monroe Street
    • Inbound Kennedy to inbound Congress Parkway
    • Outbound Dan Ryan Expressway to Taylor Street and Roosevelt Road
    • Inbound Dan Ryan to inbound Congress Parkway
    • Inbound Dan Ryan to Madison Street
    • Inbound Eisenhower Expressway to Racine Avenue
    • Inbound Congress Parkway to Canal Street
    • Outbound Congress Parkway from Canal Street
    • Outbound Congress Parkway to outbound Dan Ryan
    • Outbound Eisenhower to Morgan Street

Cook County

  • Joliet Road over railroads in McCook; lane reductions continue.
  • U.S. 12/45 (Mannheim Road) in Stone Park; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 83 at Illinois 171 in Lemont; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 68 (Dundee Road) between Illinois 43 (Waukegan Road) and Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook; closed, detour posted.
  • Wolf Road at Cumberland Circle in Des Plaines; lane reductions continue, detour posted.
  • Winnetka Road at North Branch Chicago River in Northfield; lane reductions continue, traffic controlled by temporary signal.
  • U.S. 30 from Edgewood Avenue to Illinois 1 (Chicago Road) in Chicago Heights; lane reductions continue.
  • Plum Grove Road from Illinois 72 (Higgins Road) to Illinois 58 (Golf Road) in Schaumburg; lane reductions continue.
  • Kirchoff Road from Hicks Road to New Wilke Road in Rolling Meadows, lane reductions continue.
  • Locust Road from Lake Avenue to Wilmette Avenue in Wilmette; southbound lanes closed, detour posted.
  • Intersection of Remington Road and Plum Grove Road in Schaumburg; closed, detour posted.
  • Cicero Avenue between 157th Street and 161st Street in Oak Forest; lane reductions continue.
  • 167th Street over Interstate 57 in Oak Forest; lane reductions continue.
  • Torrence Avenue over the Little Calumet River in Calumet City/Lansing; lane reductions continue.
  • Cicero Avenue between 167th Street and 173rd Street in Oak Forest and Country Club Hills; lane reductions continue.
  • llinois 7 over the Cal-Sag Channel in Palos Heights; lane reductions continue.
  • Dixie Highway in Hazel Crest and East Hazel Crest; closed, detour posted.
  • Kean Avenue from 95th Street to 107th Street in Palos Hills; closed, detour posted.

Kane County

  • Intersection of Illinois 31 and Huntley Road in Carpentersville; lane reductions continue and only eastbound traffic on Main Street allowed, detour posted.

Lake County

  • U.S. 12 from Grand Avenue to State Park Road in Fox Lake; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 120 from U.S. 41 to O’Plaine Road in Waukegan; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 120 from Knight Avenue to U.S. 41 in Park City; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 132 at U.S. 41 and northbound U.S. 41 ramp to Illinois 132 in Gurnee; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 132 from Munn Road to Deerpath Drive in Lindenhurst; lane reductions continue.

McHenry County

  • U.S. 20 east of Harmony Road in Harmony; closed.
  • Deerpass Road from Illinois 176 to River Road in Marengo; closed, detour posted.
  • Main Street from Washington Street to Illinois 62 in Algonquin; closed, detour posted.
  • Union Road from Kunde Road to Garden Valley Road in Seneca Township; closed, detour posted.
  • O’Brien Road from Manley Road to Johnson Road in Hebron Township; closed, detour posted.

Will County

  • U.S. 30 (Cass Street) from Collins Street to Henderson Avenue in Joliet; lane reductions continue.
  • Illinois 102 from Old Chicago Road to Manteno Road in Wesley; closed.
  • Illinois 7 (159th Street) from Will-Cook Road to Gougar Road in Homer Glen; lane reductions continue.

SOURCE: IDOT news release