Gas prices won't deter drivers Memorial Day weekend

 
 
Updated 5/23/2018 8:41 AM
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  • Gas prices are hovering around $3 for a gallon of regular but should peak by the July Fourth holiday.

    Gas prices are hovering around $3 for a gallon of regular but should peak by the July Fourth holiday. Getty images

The slow creep of gas prices won't deter vacationers eager to escape this Memorial Day weekend, AAA predicts.

About 41.5 million Americans will venture somewhere this holiday, a 5 percent spike from 2017, while in Illinois 2.04 million travelers will sally forth, a 4 percent increase from last year, AAA projected.

That's with a gallon of regular costing $3.20 on average in the Chicago metro area compared to $2.58 last Memorial Day.

But don't break out in a sweat remembering prices of more than $4 a gallon in May 2014. "We'll have a more expensive summer than we've seen in the previous couple of summers but nowhere near the $4 mark," AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.

The national average was $2.93 a gallon Tuesday, and forecasters expect that to hit $3 in the near future. "We're heading into the summer demand season, and trends tell us prices usually peak around the Fourth of July," Mosher explained.

Asked why prices are higher than April's monthly average of $2.97 a gallon, Mosher said it's linked to more oil exporting by the U.S., which has reduced supply. "Globally, the supply is down and demand is up, and that pushes prices higher in the U.S.," she said.

Thursday and Friday afternoon rush-hours are anticipated to bring gridlock conditions as drivers heading home from work merge with vacationers.

AAA expects from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday to be the most excruciating travel time in the metropolitan region.

Meanwhile, the Illinois tollway forecasts up to 8 million vehicles on the toll roads between Friday and Tuesday. The heaviest traffic is projected for Friday with nearly 2 million vehicles compared to 1.6 million on a normal day.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the tollway will be limiting roadwork. Tollway officials advised drivers that lane shifts are occurring on the Tri-State tollway at 159th Street, on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) between I-290 and York Road, and on the Veterans Memorial Tollway between Butterfield and Army Trail roads.

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