New-York News

Record-setting travel expected by car and air this Memorial Day weekend


Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and transit officials expect a record-breaking crush of travelers to hit the road and take to the sky.

Nearly 2.2 million passengers will travel through JFK, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and New York-Stewart International airports from Thursday through Tuesday, a slight increase of about 0.2% from the all-time high seen during the same period in 2023, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Wednesday.

Friday and Monday are anticipated to be the busiest days at the airports, and international air travel should be 7% higher than the same period last year, the agency said.

Port Authority officials are warning people traveling this summer out of JFK to brace themselves for delays due to road closures as part of the $19 billion overhaul of the airport’s terminals. The detours will likely add 15 to 30 minutes of travel time for those driving or being dropped off at the airport, Port Authority officials said.

They’re advising travelers to use mass transit to get to JFK or be dropped off by car at the Lefferts Boulevard parking lot, which offers a free AirTrain ride to the airport’s terminals.

“We are completely rebuilding JFK Airport, so the construction impact on the roads and on traffic is going to be significant,” said Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority, at a Monday news conference. “We apologize in advance.”

The redevelopment won’t wrap up until 2030, but the majority of the work will be complete by 2026.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the Port Authority said it expects to see more than 40 million passengers traveling through its airports — a record number.

Transportation Security Administration officials warn that even before the weekend, on Thursday and Friday, they are anticipating more than 2.9 million passengers to pass through checkpoints in the U.S. JFK International and LaGuardia International airports will be especially busy, the TSA predicted.

The agency expects to screen 12,000 more travelers per day during the Memorial Day weekend at JFK airport than during a typical weekend — an 11.5% increase. LaGuardia airport is expected to experience a similar 10% spike in travelers per day, the TSA said.

Meanwhile, on the roads, the AAA estimates that 43.8 million people across the U.S. will travel 50 miles or more — a 4% uptick over last year — over the memorial day holiday. In New York AAA officials anticipate 2.8 million people to travel by car, with another 1 million navigating roads in New Jersey.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement.

Thursday between noon and 6 p.m. will be the worst day for road travel, AAA said. Friday will be another tough day, particularly between 12 noon and 7 p.m. The busiest travel times on Saturday are expected between 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Departing in the morning or late evening will be the driver’s best bet, according to the AAA.

Expect major gridlock between Sunday and Monday during 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the AAA said.


Caroline Spivack , 2024-05-22 19:13:35

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