UPDATED: May 22, 2015 7:10 a.m.
WASHINGTON — AAA expects the number of drivers traveling during the Memorial Day weekend in the D.C. area to be the highest in a decade.
AAA projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations.
According to VDOT, periods of heavy congestion on the most recent Memorial Day weekends was most likely to occur between noon and 7 p.m. on Friday and Monday. Historically, heavy congestion is present on Interstate 95 southbound and Interstate 64 eastbound from Saturday morning to Saturday afternoon.
About 1 million Virginia residents are projected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend. That would be the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005 and an increase of more than 4 percent from 2014.
More than 952,000 Virginians, or 90 percent, are expected to travel by automobile.
AAA said Wednesday in a news release that the projected increase is prompted in part by declining gas prices. Gas prices in Virginia are at their lowest level for the holiday in five years, leaving residents with more disposable income.
Other factors include a strong employment market and increased consumer optimism.
The Maryland Transportation Authority is predicting that more than 1.8 million motorists will travel Maryland’s toll facilities between Friday and Monday. More than 360,500 vehicles will cross the Bay Bridge in both directions during the long holiday weekend, according to MTA.
“Before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. seems to be the best travel times,” says WNEW traffic reporter Lisa Baden.
Memorial Day getaway traffic was expected to reach its worst point on D.C. area roadways on Thursday afternoon, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend says.
Follow WNEW on Twitter