May 23, 2013

Rainy weather may keep holiday traffic down this weekend

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The forecast for a cool, rainy Memorial Day weekend is expected to dissuade would-be travelers from visiting the Portland area.

Meteorologists say rain is likely every day of the long weekend except Monday, with high temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

That could mean less traffic than usual for the weekend that starts Maine's summer tourist season, said Maine Turnpike Authority spokesman Dan Morin.

Morin said 600,000 to 800,000 vehicles use the turnpike on a typical Memorial Day weekend. This year, with the forecast for rain, he expects numbers toward the low end of that range.

Holiday traffic throughout New England is expected to be slightly less than a year ago, said AAA Northern New England spokesman Pat Moody.

In Maine, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is down considerably from a year ago, Moody said.

As of Thursday, gas cost 16 cents less per gallon on average than it did a year earlier, he said. The statewide average price was $3.59 per gallon, compared with $3.75 for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend.

Still, Moody said, gas prices generally don't have much influence on whether consumers decide to take holiday road trips.

"It's really not a deterrent for travel," he said. "It's more of a, 'How much do we have left to spend on entertainment?'"

As it typically does on holiday weekends, the Maine Department of Public Safety plans to step up enforcement efforts starting Friday to catch drunk and aggressive drivers, while enforcing speed limits and seat-belt and texting laws.

Two people were killed in traffic crashes during last year's Memorial Day weekend, and three people died during the holiday weekend in 2011, according to the Department of Public Safety.

In addition to the state police, 83 local and county police agencies are taking part in the annual "Buckle Up -- No Excuses" campaign to crack down on people who don't use their seat belts, the department said.

 

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:
canderson@pressherald.com
Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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