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Near-record travel numbers expected

Marie Havenga • Updated May 24, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Local cleaning service owner Pam Hoover took her family to Disney World for the Memorial Day weekend and the ensuing week.

Ferrysburg resident Norman Beebe and his family have trekked up to Ludington for the long weekend.

They're two of a near-record number of travelers leaving home for the holiday weekend.

According to AAA, nearly 1.3 million Michigan residents will kick off their summer with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. That’s a 3.3 percent increase from last year and the largest number in almost 15 years.

More than 1.1 million of those travelers will take a road trip, according to AAA — more than 3 percent more than in 2018.

Although traffic could become congested on some main highways, Beebe said he isn't worried about the trip north.

“Traffic is better up north than around here,” he said.

Beebe will be camping with his three adult daughters, their families and his wife, Kay.

“We will go to the state park, Custer to Sander's meat store, Little River, and whatever else is going on,” he said.

While Beebe joins the road travelers, about 70,000 other people will be flying this weekend. Air travel is expected to increase by 5 percent over last year, according to AAA projections.

AAA expects this weekend will mark the second-highest travel volume on record since the auto club began tracking national holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000. The high mark came in 2005.

Overall, an additional 1.5 million people will hit the roads, rails and runways compared to last year. That’s a 3.6 percent increase nationally.

Despite a recent jump in gas prices, with local pump prices hitting almost $3 per gallon, the majority of travelers will drive to their holiday weekend getaways.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, projects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.

AAA and the Michigan State Police are partnering on Operation C.A.R.E (Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts) at 54 rest areas in the state this weekend. Volunteers will serve free coffee and provide traffic safety information.

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