Memorial Day weekend expected to set record for car travel

DES MOINES — Iowans who plan a trip over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend will need to plot their route carefully as many roads across the region are closed either by flooding or by flood damage.

Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, says the motor club is predicting this will be the second-busiest Memorial Day weekend on record for all forms of travel, which includes air, ship, rail and car.  White says, “Memorial Day travel by automobile, however, will be the most on record, topping the previously recorded high set back in 2005 with 37.6 million people taking to the roadways.”

That’s up more than three-percent from last year. More than 37-million people will be traveling by car nationwide over the weekend and Iowans might want to get online before getting on the road. “Before you venture out, visit the site and there you can download a very helpful application that will provide you the latest information on detours, road closures and those that are under construction,” White says.

We’ve seen photos in recent weeks of gas stations in southwest Iowa that were inundated by floodwaters, so it’s very possible some of our regular road trip pit stops won’t be open. “Keep a close eye on your fuel tank,” White says. “Many of the outlets may be closed due to the Midwest flooding situation. It’s always advised you keep at least a quarter of a tank as you are traveling about this holiday period.”

Gasoline prices for the first holiday weekend of the summer driving season are down from a year ago. “Fuel prices in Iowa are very favorable,” White says. “Compared to the national average, Iowa’s state average is 20 cents lower, currently at $2.65 a gallon. That’s down about 16 cents compared to the prices that were paid last Memorial holiday.”

White says the busiest travel days will be Thursday and Friday, so try to avoid those days entirely or schedule it so you’re not going through big cities during rush hours.