Memorial Day weekend travel rush begins as gas prices reach highest levels in years

The Memorial Day rush is getting started across the D.C. region and a significant rebound in traffic – and some of the highest gas prices in years -- are expected following a season when many missed vacations due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

In the Washington, D.C. metro area, nearly 935,000 people are predicted to kick-off the unofficial start of summer with a weekend trip -- an increase of almost 60 percent over last year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. AAA also says that 71 percent of D.C. residents are planning to take a trip sometime over the summer months this season.

SUMMER TRAVEL SURGE EXPECTED ACROSS DC REGION

Across the nation, AAA says 34 million Americans are planning road trips this Memorial Day holiday weekend -- which is up over 50 percent from last year. Another nearly 2.5 million Americans will board airplanes this holiday.

Motorists are facing some of the highest gas prices in years due to the recent increase in demand for fuel, The national average for a gallon of gas prices to start the Memorial Day weekend is $3.04. In D.C., prices are above the national average at $3.17. Maryland comes in below at $3.02 and Virginia is at $2.93.

MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY TRAVEL: WORST DAYS AND TIMES TO HIT THE ROAD

The Maryland Transportation Authority is encouraging drivers to plan ahead and travel during off-peak times to avoid delays -- particularly when crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Officials say heavier eastbound traffic volumes should be expected Thursday through Saturday, May 27-29, with heavier westbound traffic volumes expected to build Sunday and Monday, May 30-31.

The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this holiday period include:

Thursday, May 27 – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

Friday, May 28 – before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

Saturday, May 29 – before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Sunday, May 30 – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

Memorial Day Monday, May 31 – before 8 a.m. and after 11 p.m.