Ready? Set? Travel

With construction crews out of the way, historically busy holiday season begins

A work crew with Shelly and Sands of Zanesville place a new surface on Tibbetts Wick Road heading into Niles, just before the Memorial Day weekend. Road travel in the Valley should not be tied up by local road projects this weekend, officials said.

Mahoning Valley residents who are traveling for Memorial Day should expect crowded routes, but little local construction.

It’s projected to be a historically busy holiday weekend for those hitting the roads or taking to the sky.

According to statistics provided by AAA, an estimated 42.3 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from their homes for Memorial Day, a 7 percent increase from 2022. It is expected to be the third-busiest Memorial Day weekend since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

Of all expected American travelers, Ohio will account for 1.8 million, which is up 7.2 percent from last year. AAA reports 1.5 million Ohio residents are expected to travel in automobiles, 86,138 are planning to make flights and 60,860 are planning other methods of travel.

“It’s great to see on the travel side,” said Jim Garrity, director of public affairs at AAA East Central.

AAA is expecting to respond to 480,000 assistance calls over the holiday weekend. It recommends that those planning to travel the roads check all the key components of their vehicle, including the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels, as well as having a fully stocked vehicle-emergency kit.

According to GasBuddy, the average regular fuel prices in Trumbull County range from $3.26 to $3.35 per gallon. In Mahoning County, gas prices range from $3.19 to $3.27 per gallon.

With more travel comes more expense. The average rate for a U.S. hotel room last week was $157 a night, up from $150 in the same week last year, according to hotel data provider STR. And the average daily rate for other short-term rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo rose to $316 last month, up 1.4 percent from a year ago, according to AirDNA, which tracks the industry.


Travelers will not have to worry too much about local construction projects.

There are no major projects in Trumbull County that residents need to worry about over Memorial Day weekend, according to Ray Marsch, a public information officer with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The only project that could delay drivers’ travel would be a project on U.S. Route 62 in Brookfield Township. A restricted crossing U-turn is being constructed at the Bedford Road intersection and a right turn only lane is being installed at the Broadway Avenue intersection. A minimum of one lane of traffic is being maintained in each direction on U.S. 62.

In downtown Youngstown, construction at three crosswalks on Commerce Street started last week and will take about two weeks to complete, closing them for periods during the two weeks of work. The affected intersections are on Walnut and Champion streets and Symphony Place.

It is one of the last items that needs to be done on Commerce Street, which has been undergoing a road improvement since September 2020. The city wants to get the work done because of events, including the annual Greater Youngstown Italian Fest, in downtown next month.

Drivers who plan to take the Ohio Turnpike over the weekend will have a mostly construction-free trip as well.

Charles Cyrill, a public information officer with the Ohio Turnpike, said that the westbound shoulder at the Newton Falls toll plaza near mile post 211 in Trumbull County will be closed. Otherwise, there will be at least two lanes open across the turnpike in Trumbull and Mahoning counties in each direction.

Summer months are the most dangerous for travel on the turnpike. Residents who plan to take the turnpike for Memorial Day travel should be cautious.

“The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day — known as the 100 deadliest days of summer — are statistically the most dangerous for motor vehicle crashes on our roadways, especially for teen drivers,” said Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission in Berea. “The top risky driving behaviors to avoid include speeding, driving distracted, impaired or drowsy and not wearing seat belts.”


Airports — and air travelers — are planning ahead and hoping not to repeat the chaos of 2022, when more than 7,000 flights were canceled worldwide over Memorial Day weekend, including hundreds in the U.S. Many of those cancellations were due to bad weather and air traffic control issues.

The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 10 million travelers between Friday and Monday, a 14 percent increase over the holiday in 2022 and slightly more than in 2019.

Airline industry officials say carriers have fixed problems that contributed to a surge in flight cancellations and delays last summer, when 52,000 flights were nixed from June through August. Airlines have hired about 30,000 workers since then, including thousands of pilots, and they are using bigger planes to reduce flights but not the number of seats.

“I don’t have the hubris to tell you exactly how the summer is going to go, but we have prepared and we have a robust plan for it,” said Andrew Watterson, chief operating officer at Southwest Airlines, which struggled at times over the summer of 2022 and suffered an epic meltdown around Christmas, canceling nearly 17,000 flights.

In a report released last month, the Government Accountability Office blamed airlines for an increase in flight cancellations as travel recovered from the pandemic. It also said airlines are taking longer to recover from disruptions such as storms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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