PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As more and more people get their COVID-19 vaccine, travelers are hitting the road and taking to the skies for a much-needed vacation this Memorial Day Weekend.
If you plan on traveling this weekend, the Oregon Department of Transportation says you should expect some delays and schedule more time for your trip.
This Friday is typically the busiest travel day of Memorial Day weekend and traffic rates are nearing pre-pandemic levels. AAA expects more than 34 million people will drive this weekend.
In Oregon alone, about 485,000 people are planning a trip to kick the summer off. ODOT says nearly 93% will go by car, which is up 60% from last year.
“Look for the gorge to be very busy. We’re going to have some roads newly opened out there for the first time,” ODOT’s Don Hamilton said. “And the roads to the coast — we’re expecting a lot of congestion there. people need to plan ahead.
To further ease the potential for congestion, ODOT has paused its work clearing debris and other hazards leftover from last year’s historic wildfires. All hazard tree and debris removal operations will halt from noon on Friday until Wednesday. However, all travelers should still remain cautious in those affected areas.
“We are all eager to get out and about to enjoy Oregon’s beauty but we also need to respect the ongoing recovery efforts in these communities,” ODOT’s Mark Lynde said. “We appreciate the public’s understanding and ask folks to stay clear of closed areas for their safety and others.
Portland International Airport officials told KOIN 6 News that travel is up from last year, but the crowds still aren’t as large as they were in 2019.
“It seemed lowkey. Everyone seemed excited,” said Eleanor Larnell, who landed in Portland at PDX on Friday. “I feel like Memorial Day, it’s the first big holiday people are traveling again for. I guess any advice is, just be patient. This is a new experience for everyone. Including the people who work in the industry. So just be patient and follow the rules. It’s not hard.”