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News

Expect busy roads, high gas prices this weekend

Gas prices are expected to reach four-year high during this Memorial Day travel season.
Gas prices are expected to reach four-year high during this Memorial Day travel season.

If you’re driving between 4 and
6 p.m. into or out of Chicago on Friday, good luck.

AAA predicts that will be the worst time to be driving during the Memorial Day weekend, but more drivers will hit the road despite congestion and increases in gasoline prices.

“Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether – traveling late morning or early afternoon – or plan alternative routes,” Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research for INRIX – an analytics company that collaborated with AAA in the forecast – said in a news release about holiday travel.

Travel times could be twice what they normally are during the 4 to 6 p.m. period, according to the forecast.

Motorists steering away from Chicago or staying closer to home in Will County won’t encounter the same delays but will see high gas prices.

The average gas price in Joliet on Thursday was $3.22 a gallon, which compared with $3.08 a week ago and $2.93 in April, according to AAA. Statewide, the average gas price Thursday was $3.10 a gallon.

“It’s been rising pretty quickly over the past couple of weeks or so,” AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.

Prices will be the highest in four years for the weekend, AAA said.

But AAA also expects 41.5 million Americans, the most since 2005, will travel this weekend, thanks to a strong economy and consumer confidence.

The number of travelers is expected to be up 5 percent from last year nationwide and up by 4 percent in Illinois, where 2 million people will travel, according to AAA.

While travelers will pay more for gas, airfares are down 7 percent from last Memorial Day, and car rental rates are down 11 percent.

The state will try to make travel easier this weekend by reopening lanes in construction zones where possible, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

Nonemergency roadwork will be suspended from 3 p.m. Friday to
12:01 a.m. Tuesday, IDOT said in a news release. IDOT cautioned that work zone speed limits will remain in effect where posted.

IDOT also listed the following areas of Will County where lane closures will remain in effect over the weekend:

• Route 53 over Hickory Creek

• Southbound Route 171 from Eighth Street to 10th Street

• Goodenow Road between Route 394 and South Ashland Avenue

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