Here are the best, worst times for Memorial Day traffic to Cape Cod, Boston and beyond

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BOSTON – Traffic is bound to be a big issue for anyone driving to Cape Cod or any other part of New England for Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), traffic congestion will be “much heavier than normal early Friday afternoon.”

“We are expecting a very busy travel weekend for this upcoming Memorial Day,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in a statement. “Drivers should leave extra time when making travel plans.”

Nationwide, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is projecting the second-highest Memorial Day travel period on record this weekend.

AAA says Boston is on its list of the top 10 destinations in the U.S. for the long weekend. Hertz told AAA that demand for weekend car rentals will be highest in Boston, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Orlando. That means there will be even more vehicles than usual on the road in New England.

When is the worst time to drive?

MassDOT said Friday is expected to be the busiest travel day. If you have to drive, try to avoid the afternoons. Here are the worst times to drive this weekend, according to AAA:

Friday, May 24    12 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 25    2 to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 26    3 to 7 p.m.
Monday, May 27    3 to 7 p.m.

MassDOT said, based on their data, traffic is expected to be heaviest on Sunday and Monday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.   

When is the best time to drive?

If you need to get somewhere, leave early or take your time and leave later in the day. AAA says these are the best times to drive on Memorial Day weekend:

Friday, May 24    Before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 25    Before 1 p.m., after 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 26    Before 1 p.m.
Monday, May 27   After 7 p.m.

Where are Massachusetts traffic cameras?

It’s always best to know before you go, so MassDOT has a network of traffic cameras covering most of the major highways across Massachusetts. 

You can see them on the agency’s Mass511 website, which also has travel times and construction information. MassDOT will also update traffic conditions on social media.

The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy will open early for the weekend at 1 p.m. Friday and will not be used Monday because of the holiday.

The Sumner Tunnel, which will be closed most summer weekends for renovations, will be open Memorial Day weekend.

MBTA Memorial Day holiday weekend schedules

MassDOT said people should take public transportation “as much as possible” to help ease the stress on the roads and highways. 

The MBTA Commuter Rail will be on a weekend schedule through Monday and their $10 Weekend Pass will be accepted on Monday. 

For details on specific subway and bus holiday schedules, you can search for information on the MBTA’s website.

Massachusetts gas prices

The good news for drivers is that gas prices have been dropping across Massachusetts. The average price has been about $3.55 a gallon this week, AAA said.

“Even if demand spikes over the holiday, refiners are continuing to ramp up production to meet typical seasonal demand,” said AAA spokesman Mark Schieldrop.

AAA defines the Memorial Day weekend as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27, 2024.   

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