Memorial Day weekend traffic on Maine Turnpike falls short of expectations

·1 min read

Jun. 1—Record-setting traffic expected on the Maine Turnpike did not materialize over this year's long Memorial Day weekend.

More than 941,000 vehicle transactions were recorded at the turnpike's toll plazas over the four-day period from Friday through Monday, about 1,000 fewer transactions than last year and far short of the record.

Memorial Day weekend transactions were about 7 percent lower than in 2019, a record-setting year for the turnpike with over 1 million toll transactions. That figure fell to about 564,000 transactions in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic and related business and travel restrictions sharply limited tourism. Last year, the turnpike recorded nearly 943,000 Memorial Day weekend transactions.

The Maine Turnpike Authority had projected more than 1.4 million transactions over the most recent holiday weekend. Record-high gas prices and bad weather in some parts of the region may explain why there were fewer travelers than expected, said Turnpike Authority Chief Financial Officer Doug Davidson.

The average price for regular gasoline in Maine hovered around $4.80 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA Northern New England.

Although high gas prices have not been shown to prevent vehicle travel, they may cause people to alter their plans, drive shorter distances or take fewer trips. Memorial Day is the traditional start of Maine's summer tourism season, but traffic on the turnpike is far heavier on Labor Day and on weekends in August.