EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU)—The unofficial start to summer kicks off this weekend for the long Memorial Day weekend.
Tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel. Many people on I-80 are hitting the road and AAA predicts nearly 40 million people will be traveling for this Memorial Day weekend.
Slow-moving traffic in the Poconos on Interstate 80 Friday afternoon, a normal sight surrounding Memorial Day weekend where nearly 40 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles or more from home.
“I think a lot of people, even despite the prices, they have the attitude of ‘we haven’t vacationed in how many years, we had to cancel vacation, so this year now that we can travel, we’re going to do it,’” says Nina Waskevich, V.P. Brand and membership, AAA North Pennsylvania.
AAA estimates an increase of more than 8 percent of travelers in the country, similar to traffic statistics from 2017. However, AAA officials tell Eyewitness News an increase of drivers are staying local due to inflation.
“Definitely seeing more people going to the Poconos or only a few hours from home versus taking a long extended trip because of the gas prices,” says Waskevich.
More vehicles on the road lead to more traffic, we checked in with first responders in the Delaware Water Gap who were relieved about the re-opening of route 611 on the Monroe/Northampton County line that’s been closed for weeks due to flooding.
They say their response times were impacted due to the closure, and they’re grateful for the reopening ahead of the holiday weekend.
“We would have to go all the way around on route 80 down to Portland and Mt. Bethel to assist them with any fires, anything like that. So a ten-minute ride this way ended up being twenty minutes on 80,” says Lori Ike, Assistant Chief of the Delaware Water Gap Fire Department.
To beat the traffic, AAA recommends travelers hit the road early or late in the evening, something Romeo Robertson planned for his weekend trip.
“We kind of came late to avoid the traffic, you know because nothing’s really going on a Thursday night but yeah so we left late from our jobs and came right over here and smooth sailing all the way,” says Romeo Robertson, a traveler from New York.
For those traveling, AAA says to be patient on the roads and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.