These are the best and worst times to travel by car over Memorial Day weekend

The lightest traffic will be on Saturday and Sunday.

Traffic on the Zakim Bridge into Boston in 2021. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

This Memorial Day weekend, 37.1 million Americans will travel by car, and major metro areas such as Boston and New York will likely see double the traffic, according to AAA.

The number of road trippers will increase by 2 million this year, and the busiest day on the road will be Friday, May 26, according to INRIX, a provider of transportation data. The lightest traffic days will be Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28. AAA defines the Memorial Day travel period as May 25-29.

Due to the increase in traffic this weekend, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is recommending drivers use MassDOT’s “real time” travel tools and resources and take public transportation when possible.


 “As travel increases in the coming summer months, we encourage all members of the public to plan ahead, use technology tools to determine when to take trips, and obey all traffic laws when driving, including, drive sober, drive hands-free, wear a seatbelt, and travel the speed limit or slower,” said Gina Fiandaca, secretary and CEO of MassDOT, in a statement.

Travelers should expect “long delays” this holiday weekend, especially in and around major metro areas, Bob Pishue, of INRIX, said in a statement. 

Construction on the Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project will halt this weekend, and the tunnel will remain open between Friday and Monday, according to MassDOT.

Folks returning to Boston from Cape Cod and the Islands will find one of the most congested routes in the nation on Pilgrims Highway N, which will see an 89% increase over normal traffic levels with a peak on Monday, May 29, at 8 p.m., according to INRIX. Another congested route: Boston to Portsmouth on I-95 N, which will see a 28% increase over normal traffic levels with a peak on Tuesday, May 30, at 4 p.m.

In general, the worst time to travel by car over the holiday weekend is between 3 and 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, and Friday, May 26; between noon and 3 p.m. on Monday, May 29; and between 4 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, according to INRIX.


Road trippers will fare best if they travel before 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 25; before noon on Friday, May 26; before 10 a.m. on Monday, May 29; and before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, according to INRIX.

Travelers can download the Mass511 mobile app or visit www.mass511.com to view live cameras, travel times, and real-time traffic conditions before taking to the roads. Users can subscribe to receive text and email alerts.

Folks can also follow @MassDOT on Twitter to receive updates on road and traffic conditions or dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

AAA named Boston among the top Memorial Day destinations in the U.S.


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