Citing lower gas prices and a more optimistic outlook among consumers, the AAA Carolinas motor club predicts that North Carolina highways will be busier this weekend than they were during the Labor Day holiday last year.
An estimated 972,600 North Carolinians are expected to travel this weekend, up 5 percent from 2012, AAA said.
Labor Day travel in 2012 was curtailed by wet weather blamed on Hurricane Isaac, and the storm also pushed gas prices higher. The Triangle average price for self-service regular on Tuesday was $3.504 a gallon, 23 cents lower than on the same date a year ago.
As the economy has steadily improved in the Carolinas, more families will take advantage of the last holiday weekend of the summer, David E. Parsons, AAA Carolinas president and CEO, said in a news release.
Weather forecasters expect a more pleasant holiday weekend this year, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s on much of the East Coast, AAA said.
Officers with the State Highway Patrol, the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement and the Wildlife Resources Commission will team up to promote sober driving and boating in a holiday weekend campaign called On the Road, On the Water, Dont Drink and Drive. During the three-day Memorial Day weekend, the three agencies issued 9,501 citations, including 310 for driving or boating while impaired.
The state Department of Transportation says most road work will be suspended between 4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Tuesday, but travelers should watch out for a few construction-related delays this weekend:
• U.S. 1 north of Aberdeen in Moore County, reduced to one lane each way, because of bridge construction.
• U.S. 74 near Laurel Hill in Scotland County, one lane for westbound traffic, because of bridge work.
• U.S. 158, Elizabeth Street, in Elizabeth City is two lanes each way over the Pasquotank River, because of a bridge project.
• Interstate 73 in Guilford County is two lanes each way between I-40 and I-85, because of interchange construction at High Point Road.
Also, DOT said, two roads are closed because of recent flooding in northwestern North Carolina: N.C. 163 near Glendale Springs in Ashe County, and N.C. 194 near Newland in Avery County.
Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown. On Twitter @Road_Worrier.